Experiencing the Harn Museum By: James Donnarumma

Medium of the Art/Technique of the Artist: One of my absolute favorite pieces in the Harn Museum was the piece known as Dancing Ganesh. In case you were unaware Ganesh is an Indian deity that is known for his jolly nature and positive outlook on life. Overall, Ganesh seems to be a very fun creature, being an elephant headed Hindu God, as he was also able to bless people. To capture this happy go lucky personality and over the top appearance, the artist decided that a three dimensional approach would be a better representation of Ganesh’s characteristics. Using black stone, he somehow gives Ganesh a soft and round appearance. Ganesh is in the middle of a dance and strikes a dramatic pose, showing off his boldness. From carving stone, he gives Ganesh weight and portrays him as a wide, heavy, elephant man. Seeing this piece in person was much more effective than just looking it up online because seeing this statue in a physical state allowed me to see Ganesh’s proportions. Also looking at the art up close showed how much care went into its creation, as several elements from Ganesh’s mythological history was incorporated into his design. What struck me the most was the time period this piece was made in. This sculpture comes from the thirteenth century and I feel that it shows how powerful human creativity is. Despite a limited medium and unsophisticated tools, an Indian artist was able to create such an accurate and whimsical representation of a deity. This piece communicated the artist’s appreciation for Ganesh and honestly made me interested in him as well. It created intrigue around Indian mythology and helped me appreciate a culture different than my own.

Design of the Museum: The wing that appealed to me the most in the Harn Museum was the Asian Collection area. This room had nice brown, wood floors with a large amount of space. Outside the window was a beautiful water garden that really added to the grandeur of the exhibit. Alongside the walls were varying form of art, such as statues and paintings, that made it very comforting. I felt at home in this exhibit and experienced an urge to explore. Nothing felt cramped, each artwork was able to stand out amongst the other works. The lighting was mostly natural, coming from the big windows in the back of the exhibit, which made it have a different presentation from other parts in the museum. I felt that this exhibit was very classy and it really stood out amongst the other exhibits that merge with each other. In addition to the garden being in the background and a large amount of space in the room, the Asian Collection was located away from the other exhibits. For example the Latin American and African collections did not, at least in terms of visual design, look to different from another. I was clearly able to identify the Asian Collection and felt it might have held some important pieces due to the exhibit’s presentation. I may, however, be slightly biased as several of my favorite pieces did come from this exhibit, which might be another reason why I remember this part of the museum so fondly.

Art and Core Values: One piece that resonated me on a personal level was Archangel Raphael. In the Hispanic Art exhibit, this little sculpture invokes ideas of angels and heaven. While a simple piece, this artwork had powerful implications. It showed the artist’s strong feelings towards Christianity, shown by the Archangel wielding a cross and holy garments. It brought back memories of me being enrolled in Catholic school as a child and studying the history behind the creation of man. Whenever I envision an angel, I think of a delicate, beautiful being with a halo and small wings but Lopez creates a being of strength with this little statue. I think this was meant to represent how strong of a role Lopez’s religions was in his daily life. He was responsible for a revival of an art style in New Mexico known as religious wood carving, and a movement does not gain traction unless the people behind it believe in the cause. This peace appeals to some of my core emotions of love, hope and fear. This being was presented in a foreign fashion to what I was anticipating, which made me fearsome of how powerful the Archangel is, but also inspired my love and hope for the life after my death as perhaps there is a strength that looks like Raphael in my spirit. It really helped me investigate into my religious background as I made me reconsider my past and how those values shape my attitude towards life. It was inspirational in terms of representing the strength of religion. It helps me affirm my beliefs in the power of God and made me proud to be Christian.


Art and the Good Life: One piece that reminded me of the Good Life module, Celebrating the Good Life. was a photograph of Guardian of the North. From my understanding of the piece, this picture was taken during a festival in South Korea the celebrated their culture through costume and makeup. Looking at this reminded me of the importance of community and how that can play a key role in Celebrating the Good Life. From this man dressing himself in ancient fashion to give thanks to a higher power, it reminded me of Heschel’s text, The Sabbath. In The Sabbath, Heschel discusses ideas such as a palace in time and how a community can give thanks together. I feel these ideas resonate in this festival practice as this individual is taking time take an inner rest and represent his religious and cultural background. Celebrating is a necessary aspect of our lives, whether that be religious introspection or parties centered around fun and enjoyment. It conveys celebration through the happy expression on the person’s face as well as his body movement. He is in motion, enjoying life and stepping away from his daily life. It helps me understand Celebrating the Good Life in different cultures as I sometimes had trouble envisioning these kinds of celebrations.

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