Tour of the Harn Museum Good Life: Tour of the Harn

Old Man's Cloth (2003), El Anatsui, Ghanian

Medium of the Art / Technique of the Artist: I saw The Old Man's Cloth by the artist El Anatsui. The art work was made from trash, discarded bottle caps of brand name liquors, and kente cloth, which is a ceremonial and royal cloth made by the Asante and Ewe people. Seeing this work in person assisted me in appreciating it to the full extent of its value because the essence of this particular piece cannot be captured in photos for the most part since there are many metallic and glimmering mediums within the work. When attempting to take a photo of The Old Man's Cloth the pictures came out a little blurry or with a glare and did not do the picture justice. Seeing it in person also helped me to better understand the actual work because I could actually see that the work was a mixture of goods that were once valued in the past and trash. Illustrating that what was once so valued to the "old man" is now only the remnants of a colorful past, but is still somewhat valued out of custom in the same way as the kente cloth. I found the technique and the medium both to be striking. Anatsui took the now trash, that people used to literally sell each other in the slave trade for, and acquired work into it transforming it into a piece that tells the cultural histories and exchanges that happened during the time period that the 'trash' or European goods were valued. This communicated to me that prized materials and goods of value are only temporary. Things are meant to be used and people are supposed to be loved. A recurrent problem, even today, that was demonstrated in the time of the Atlantic Slave Trade in Africa is that things are being loved while people are getting used. It made me feel a bit sad that although most people in the modern world aren't being sold for wealth anymore most modern day individuals can be very inconsiderate of the plight others must withstand for them to achieve materialistic goods. This can be seen in the forms of foreign and child labor.

The Cofrin Asian Art Wing

Design of the Museum: I found The Cofrin Asian Art Wing to be particularly appealing. The setting of this wing felt inviting to me personally. What interested me most was that the setup of the Asian Wing guides you throughout the exhibits in a counter clockwise or clock wise manner leading you through the garden outside. This wing was very bright and cheery due to the massive windows facing you as soon as you walk in, yet it is also calm. The light from the windows bounces off the wooden surfaces of the floors, walls, ceilings, and pierces through the glass cases holding certain art works. The actual structure of the wing was symmetrical, but abstract art was strategically placed throughout and helped to lead me through all the exhibits. The setup of the room encouraged you to either turn left or right when you walked in due to the large art works laying on the floor with small boundaries around them in the middle. I believe this was done intentionally since there are large doors leading to the garden of the left most and right most sides of the wing. I found this wing to be the most enticing as a result of the bright lighting that emphasized and helped me to better examine the works. The lighting also made me feel more awake and aware of the art around me. The use of space and the arrangement of art in the exhibits of this wing were arranged in a way that conveyed both the harmony and the spice of variety that can be found throughout all of Asia. Although the art pieces for different countries of Asia were separated they were also considerably close to one another and all could be found under the same luminous lighting and calming hard wood floors. Overall the quiet and uniformly abstract wing gave me a sense of peace and reflection.

Frida Smoking in Mazahua Dress (1953), Mayo Brothers, Mexican

Art and Core Values: Frida Smoking in Mazahua Dress is a photograph of Frida doing exactly what the title implies. She is smoking in a traditional Mexican Mazahua dress. However, the photo focuses on the strength that the woman in the painting possesses rather than what is wearing or what she is actively doing. This artwork appeals to my core value of strength because although the woman in the photograph has a face that is evidence of continuous suffering, loss, and pain she does not appear to be beaten down or 'finished'. Life is challenging to say the least and at times it can seem hopeless, but what we portray and how we present ourselves when we fall on hard times speaks volumes to our faith and the foundations that we stand upon. The visual representation of a woman who has been through what I perceive to be the hellish ordeal of a chaotic society helped me to better appreciate my core value of strength. Although, she is not beaming in the photo and is clearly not at utter peace her quiet strength inspires hope. Sometimes maintaining a strong exterior can be exhausting and it's okay to break down occasionally, but viewing this photograph assures me that the strength we project on the outside is not only for our own benefits. The strength we project on the outside can also inspire others to maintain or find their own strengths as well. The artwork instills the determination to not let life get the best of me or pass me by while I become a victim of circumstance instead of a champion of adversity. I always thought strength was vital to just 'get you through' hard times, but this photo helps me to have a fuller comprehension of the extent to which strength is contagious and can not only get you through hard times, but also to help assure that you will strive in good times and help others in times of pain.

Dancing Ganesh, 13th Century, Indian

Art and The Good Life: Ganesh is a beloved embodiment of divinity in Hinduism. This statue of Ganesh is made from black stone, but still manages to bring out the warmth and joy associated with Ganesh. A vital factor of the good life is problem solving, identifying the issues that loom over our heads, and assisting others in achieving their own versions of the good life. Ganesh is the representation of the idea that helping others and handing out blessings whenever you can is rewarding. This can be seen in his jolly, nonchalant appearance. Ganesh is also friendly and accessible, which as we've seen in the cases of our reading, most people who achieve the good life are also friendly, accessible, and open to help others. Overall, this statue evokes the theme that the good life can be shared because Ganesh, who is a god and has already presumably achieved the good life, blesses others and assists with problem solving for anyone who may need his eternal wisdom. This adds to my appreciation of the theme that the good life can be shared because when I usually think if sharing I associate it with sacrifice. However, Ganesh seems over joyed to share the wealth of his infinite knowledge. Proving that the ability to give is not a burden or a sacrifice, it is a privilege.


Created with images by jared422_80 - "Gainesville - Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art"

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