Good Life Tour of the Harn Museum By Riley Bailey

Scene from M. Koslek's "Semi-otics of the Kitchen"

Medium of Art

M. Koslek's "Semi-otics of the Kitchen", a series of videos in which a women named the various tools that could be found in a Kitchen, is an art instillation that exemplifies the idea that art must be experienced in person. Shown in a dark room, the motions of the woman were humorous and random; an effect that would have been lost if I had went and searched it up on my own. The meaning of the work, most likely a comment on gender roles, would have also been absent if I had not seen the work at the museum as it was included in the Harn's female artists section. The medium of video also allowed the piece of artwork to address banal items interestingly that I would have otherwise glanced over if it they were still images. The artwork was a unique and borderline absurd piece that surprisingly was enjoyable it its weirdness. These absurd sentiments probably relate to the absurdity the artists regards gender norms that state the kitchen, and the home, are the domain of women. "Semi-otics of the Kitchen" illustrates that expressions of art often have to be experienced as their intended meaning is informed by their relation to space, the differing angles to view them from, and the manner in which they are presented. Experiencing art as it is intended is important because the communicative nature of artistic expression is only effective when the artists had an engaged audience to communicate with; which requires that an audience member experiences the art in the manner the artists envisioned them to.

Left: Outside of Harn Museum; Right: Roommate and I outside of Harn Museum after touring the Exhibits

Design of Museum

The modern and spacious design of the Harn Museum amplified my consumption of the art on display. Open, well-lit, and modernly furnished; the Museum's viewing galleries made it seem like the art on display was important, and reinforced this idea in my head. The design also made me want to spend more time in the museum as it was inviting and made the building appear larger (i.e. made me believe there was more artwork to see). My favorite aspects of the museum's design were the gardens; two of which included artwork and were solely for viewing, and a zen garden that one can walk into. The zen garden, outside and with natural lighting, had a small wooden bridge and waterfall in its center; creating a picturesque and peaceful atmosphere. While not hosting any art, the zen garden was right outside the east Asian art gallery and its peaceful and serene qualities informed how I viewed those art pieces and the ideas that I associated with them. As I experienced with the zen garden, spaces are important to who we experience events as we often have emotions associated with the orientation, objects, lighting, and use of a particular space. Because experiences occur in a space, like the act of viewing art was apart of my trip through the zen garden, how we value and react to an experience is also impacted how the space informs that experience. The zen garden's beauty, natural lighting, and logical use of space made me more relaxed and peaceful which were feelings that continued for the rest of my day at the Harn Museum.

Ad by the Guerrilla Girls organization included in the Harn's exclusively Female section

Art and The Good Life

Art always has meaning; and often that meaning is to provoke emotion and change a consumers view of the world around them. Art is a representation of our environment; but shown through the prism of the artist's beliefs about aspects of that human environment. Thus, art has always shown contested issues and injustices present among us while tying them to a consumer's emotion; as to provoke a response that will inform how the consumer views and interacts with those issues and injustices. The social consciousnesses of artwork illustrates that the act of sharing artwork with an audience is representative of fighting for the "good life", sharing the "good life", and celebrating the "good life." Artwork that aims to provoke a change in its audience shows how the artist fights for their good life by actively combating the perceived ignorance or apathy of the viewers in a conflict to change their view to their own; a goal they believe will benefit their own life as well as the lives of others. The mere fact that artwork is displayed shows that it is a avenue for the artist to share their "good life". The artwork is a a form of communication that allows the artists to share emotions, ideas, and their hard work with others. The fact that artwork is displayed and showcased also highlights how artistic expression is a celebration of the "good life;" the artist celebrates their viewpoint and the time they put into their piece by having it displayed. The public nature of the museum attaches significance and importance to the artwork and thus allows the artist to feel booth accomplished and influential, traits that they would most likely celebrate. The section of the Harn that strongly reflected these aspects of the "good life" was an exhibit on the artistic social advocacy group "The Guerrilla Girls," who pushed for gender equality for modern artists showcased in exhibits and museums. Much like the provocative ad above, the artwork of the Guerrilla Girls fights for the "good life" by entirely embracing its social viewpoint and charging the audience with considering that viewpoint. While concerned with social issues, the artwork also shares and celebrates the "good life" by displaying and communicating the artist's message and time that they put into the work.

Photo by Fati Abubakar included in the Exhibit: Bits of Borno-Bruised But Not Broken, Surviving Boko Haram

Art and Core Values

The photograph included above was my favorite piece in the entire museum. A part of a photography exhibit examining the lives of Nigerians in Borno state since the devastation brought by the Boko Haram insurgency and the government's campaign to eliminate them, the photo represented one of my key core values. "No condition is permanent," written here on the side of a cattle truck, is word for word a motto that I live by and find reoccurring solace in. This core value allows me to reassure myself that no matter what hardships I'm experiencing at a time, those hardships will eventually end at some point, and as a result it helps me more to focus on ending the hardship rather than the pain and annoyance of the hardship. To see the same philosophy here espoused by a community going through a situation of immense hardship that I have never experienced the likes of, made me more sure of the power and legitimacy of such a philosophy. The artwork made me feel both incredibly inspired and awed by the resilience of human beings. This photograph, and the exhibit which was equally as emotional and inspiring, was the last part of my trip to the Harn; and was a great capstone to my experience there. This photograph epitomizes the emotional relevance that artwork holds and its ability to connect people through that emotion. This aspect of artwork is what I most respect about art, viewing it allows you to ponder and examine your own emotions and views through the prism of someone else's . Viewing this photo allowed me to see that my core value of resilience is a commonly held value; a fact that I know that, just like the appreciation of art, will allow me to connect to people anywhere in the world.

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