Good Life Tour of The Harn An ARTISTIC EXPERIENCE

Medium of Art / Technique of the Artist

The Water Spirit Mask by the Ekpeye people in Nigeria is a large, three-dimensional mask worn by the Ekpeye people to illustrate aquatic creatures and further water-related motifs.

Ekpeye People, Nigeria: "Water Spirit Mask" c. 1970 (made of wood, paint, mirror, metal)

Because this mask is used by the Ekpeye people to symbolize motifs related to water, it is crucial to visualize it in person in order to acquire a deep and whole understanding of its meaning. The lower portion of the mask reveals stylized serpentine and crocodilian elements, which in addition to its overall shape of a boat, help to embrace the pervasive aquatic theme underlying the Ekpeye people's culture. Seeing this piece in person, thus, helps me to appreciate the small details with care and focus, which consequently lead me to the appreciation of the mask as an art-piece, especially one that communicates the spiritual significance of for water and live. The artist's perfectionism and striking attention to detail overwhelmed me, because of both the time and work I imagine the piece must have received.

Design of the Museum

The David A. Coffin Asian Art Wing of the Harn Museum of Art appealed to me because of various aspects; its agglomeration of wood and glass, its uniformity (with a "square-like" architecture; e.g. square windows, tiles, seats, etc.), and lastly its glass panel at the end of the wing, revealing a green landscape that provides intense lightning to the wing.

The David A. Coffin Asian Art Wing at the Harn Museum

Because the David A. Coffin Asian Art Wing has this dichotomous architecture, intertwining glass with wood, it provides a feeling of contrast between transparency and the solid, concrete, stiff world. The architecture also reveals itself as "pointy" with sharp objects and frames that range from triangles, squares, and octagons, but very feel round objects (except for maybe a seat). Because of the stiff architecture and rigidness of the predominant wood encountered in the floors, windows, and walls the wing does a good job in contrasting it with a soft green nature landscape. This dichotomy is analogous to that of glass and wood that the artist tries to incorporate in its architecture. Thus, by creating a wing that is not only mesmerizing but intensively dichotomous, the architect plays with the lighting and shapes of the place to draft it as remarkable as the art pieces portrayed in there themselves.

Art and Core Values

The work "Manhattan" by German artist George Grosz appeals to me profoundly, especially to the values of "home" and "belonging." Because I was born and raised in one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world (São Paulo, BR), I have been accustomed to the concrete jungle and a dazzling city skyline.

George Grosz, German: "Manhattan" 1946 (Oil on board)

Having been born in São Paulo and gotten accustomed to the busy way of life (taking the subway everyday, walking to places rather than driving, making walking through crowds an innate talent), I was easily appealed by the striking paint-brushes made by Grosz that compose this beautifully produced illustration of the Manhattan skyscrapers. New York City is one of my favorite places, and the idea of home instantly lights up in my brain whenever a picture of the city skyscrapers is shown. Because both places I have lived in are far from becoming a metropolitan area any sooner (Orlando and Gainesville), I become easily enticed by illustrations of the big city.

Art and The Good Life

This extensively denominated art piece, "A thanksgiving prayer to the Mixe god Kioga in gratitude for the good harvest, Oaxaca, Mexico," was created by a Brazilian artist, Sebastião Salgado, sharing with me both a nationality and interpretation of a Good Life Theme . The artist, through his work, portrays a prayer as a form of thanksgiving, which can clearly be seen as a celebration. Salgado thus portrays the theme of "celebrating the good life."

Sebastião Salgado, Brazilian: "A thanksgiving prayer to the Mixe god Kioga in gratitude for the good harvest, Oaxaca, Mexico" 1980 (Gelatin silver print)

One of the themes of the "Good Life" is celebration; most specifically, celebrating the good life. In this picture by photojournalist Sebastião Salgado, the indigenous people of the Mixe celebrate (and thank their God for) a good harvest. Salgado is known for focusing on the realities of marginalized indigenous people, and by illustrating one of their thanksgiving traditions, it is also noticeable how celebration can arise from such trivial events as a good harvest that happen to be crucial in the life of the Mixe people. By looking at this artwork, I was overwhelmed to think that celebration has no defined motivator; instead, it is triggered by what is subjectively most important to any individual person or group of individuals. Therefore, one may celebrate earning for successfully defending a doctorate dissertation or merely for a good year of harvest, thanking their gods (whomever that may be) for what's been earned.

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