Good Life Tour of the Harn Ben Brown

Before spring break I was able to go with a fellow classmate to the Harn and experience the art there. Here is my experience in spark story form.

Prism by Marilyn Minter 2009

Medium of the Art / Technique of the Artist

Marilyn Minter has explored the "pathology of glamour" in the works of art she has produced in the past twenty years. Minter takes "tight" focus shots of certain areas of the body focused on in magazines and pop culture. By focusing in on these specific areas of the body (lips, shoes, eyes), Minter focuses in on a woman's daily struggle to undo and redo their physical appearance in a strive for perfection. As you can see from the picture above, you can't see the artwork, Prism, very well due to the glare from lights and the camera from my phone. It's a a good example of how you need to just see certain things in person to get their full effect. This piece spoke to me because of its commentary on our culture's view of beauty and perfection and more specifically the emphasis it puts on a woman's beauty and perfection. There are several stereotypes that our society puts on women. For example, many models and depictions of what beauty "should be" display women who have luscious, full, and shinning lips. This stereotype puts pressure on women to conform to this standard of beauty and to work hard each day to meet this standard before facing the world. Prism stood out to me due to the ridiculousness of the glamour depicted in the picture. The lips are sparkling covered in makeup and glitter. Jewels are spilling from the open mouth. To me, it seemed like Minter hyper-focuses on the lips in this picture and the glamour of them to show the full extent to which society over-glamorizes certain aspects of women, further cementing the culture that forces women to conform to a certain standard of beauty.

Design of the Museum

In the Asian collection part of the museum, there was a door that led outside to a traditional garden area. There was a small fountain that had water trickling down rocks and into a small stream that flowed quietly underneath a bridge. There were many beautiful flowers and plants typically found in gardens such as these. Across the bridge there was a small bench. Everything in this exhibit was simple and there was beauty in its simplicity. Being one of the only people there at that time, the atmosphere was that of tranquility and harmony. While its true that when you view art, you partake in its beauty, the garden invited you to experience the art up close and personal. A highlight of my visit was walking through the exhibit and being soothed by the peacefulness of the moment. The design of this exhibit and how it allowed me to walk through and truly experience the garden enhanced my experience of the art. Having the art divided into specific themes or cultures helped me focus in and think deeply about the pieces being shown. Having everything in one place allowed me to experience what the art had to offer before I moved on to another exhibition. For someone who learns and understands well spatially, it was helpful to have a guideline for my mind by having different exhibitions.

Cama Alta (Tall Bed) by Linda Kohen 2003

Art and Core Values

Cama Alta is an oil on canvas piece and is part of a larger series create by Linda Kohen called Camas (Beds). This series was created shortly after her husbands death. Each piece depicts a bed but to varying effects. Some have the sheets strewn about, falling off the bed. Others have the imprint of a body that had recently been there. Each one invokes in the viewer a sense of bittersweet love and ultimately a sense of loss. A bed is an inanimate object with no emotions but Kohen breathes life onto these canvases, telling a story. The story would be much different if it depicted people sleeping happily together in the bed, but instead is gives the overwhelming feeling of absence. There may have once been someone in the bed, but they are now gone leaving nothing but sheets growing ever colder. Initially I was confused by the artwork and wondered why there was just a depiction of a bed. After learning the reason behind the artwork, it held a much greater weight. Loss is a very empty feeling and Kohen does a good job of depicting the emptiness that comes with loss through her depiction of her Cama Alta. The piece made me think of my own losses that I've had and the general feeling that loss brings. I can't begin to imagine the loss of a spouse, but I was able to feel empathy for the loss. You don't know what you have until its gone. You may not take love or company for granted, but you may not realize its full extent until you are faced with its absence. It's the little things and the simple things in our daily life that we may take for granted and its what we notice most when we lose them.

Dream Police by Jackie Nickerson 1998

Art and the Good Life

Jackie Nickerson's Dream Police comes from her fine art chronicles of communities in Africa and Ireland. This particular piece, Dream Police, is a picture of a young women from Zimbabwe, standing tall and wearing a sweatshirt of the American band Dream Police despite the hardships of her life. The life of this unnamed Zimbabwe woman is much different from a life in the United States. She is constantly working in the midst of poverty, but is proud and happy despite this. One of the Good Life's themes is sharing the Good Life. We talked in class and discussion about how there are varying views of what the Good Life truly is. In fact, everyone has their own unique Good Life that they strive towards. The people of Zimbabwe in the face of such hardship find their own Good Life and share in that happiness and fulfillment within their community. The piece Dream Police provided an example of how one could share in a much different Good Life than what would be the norm in the United States. It also cemented the idea that everyone has varying degrees for what qualifies as their "good life" and how they go about achieving it. It's important to be mindful of this and to share the world in a way that helps everyone achieve a happy and fulfilling good life.

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