"Harn"essing the Good Life Gabriela Gonzalez

Graves, Nancy. II-06-94. 1994. Delicately perched underneath a brightly lit window, the bronze with patina and glass sculpture caught my attention immediately. The subdued hues of green, purple, and orange only add to the mesmerizing affect of the piece, II-06-94. When first observing it, I wasn't quite sure what artist Nancy Graves was trying to convey- the finely micro-sculpted musical notes strongly juxtaposed the blunt, stone-like base of the art and there seemed to be a lack of cohesiveness. If I had not seen the bronze sculpture in person, my analysis of the art would have ended there, however, a firsthand experience allowed me to examine Grave's work in depth. I realized a horseshoe crab adorns the piece, along with the impression of human teeth and a skull, which symbolizes life's origins. In contrast, the existential stars and musical notes point to the continuance of life after passing. The artwork surprised me- I didn't expect the jumbled bronze and glass to convey a somber message of life and death, and I walked away reevaluating my hastiness to judge and the phrase "nothing is as it seems."
Guerrilla Girls. Do Women Have to be Naked to Get Into the Met Museum? Update. 2012. The Harn Museum recently adopted a new theme- feminism. The entrance to the museum boasted artwork primarily from the 1800's and 1900's, but as I moved deeper into the exhibits, the timeframe shifted to present day. The Guerrilla Girls are a modern feminist group that advocate for women and people of color in the art world. At the forefront of the exhibit was the "Do Women Have to be Naked to Get Into the Met Museum?" poster that spanned the entire wall. It appealed to me because of the sheer size of the board and the unapologetic tone it set for the rest of the exhibit. The adjacent wall had billboard posters arranged in a grid; each print expressed poignant commentary on the lack of representation in the art business. The Guerilla Girls exhibit was eye-opening and inspirational, and I got chills as I read the sassy statistics.
Kurland, Justine. Mama Baby, Tidal Pools, Trinadad, California. 2007. Justine Kurland's chromogenic development print, "Mama Baby, Tidal Pools, Trinadad, California," is a sharp contrast to the Guerrilla Girls' exhibit. While the Guerrilla Girls aim to expose the injustices of the world, Kurland focuses on a Utopian society where feminism is defined as the peaceful relationship between mother and daughter. Her message coincides with my core values of honoring family and respecting nature. Kurland's decision to paint the mother and children nude allowed me to explore the innocence of the familial relationship and reminded me of the acceptance my own family shows me. Further, Kurland strives to depict a naturalistic world through the community embracing the tide. As a Wildlife Ecology and Conservation major, this harmony resonated with me.
Takaezu, Toshiko. White Closed-Form Vessel. 1990s. Toshiko Takaezu's glazed stoneware, "White Closed-Form Vessel," conveys the Good Life theme of self-expression. Takaezu wrote messages inside of the closed vessels, thus she would be the only person that knew what the messages said unless someone were to smash her artwork. Her artistic process was a form of self-reflection and her way of leaving a legacy and mark on the world. She attests, "And when an artist produces a good piece, that work has mystery, an unsaid quality; it is alive." The mysterious level of her work aids my understanding of personal autonomy and self-expression because art is commonly appreciated by a community, but Takaezu withheld an aspect of her art in order to remain in control of her expression.

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