Tour of the Harn Museum of Art Adam Haubenstock

INTRODUCTION

On January 7th, 2017, I visited the Harn Museum of Art. My experience at the Harn was very enjoyable for many reasons. The main reason stems from a general lack of art in my life. As an engineering student, I often neglect the importance of humanities in shaping my personal development. It is nice to take time away from thought based mostly in math and science to be able to appreciate a kind of beauty and creativity that is totally different. The photos that follow show a few of my favorite pieces at the museum.

Photographs by Adam Haubenstock; Taken on January 7th, 2017 at the Harn Museum.

MEDIUM OF THE ART & ARTIST'S TECHNIQUE

"Old Man's Cloth" - a tapestry made of aluminum and copper wire (2003)

This piece drew my attention because of how it was constructed. It was interesting to look up close and see how aesthetically unpleasing each individual aluminum strip is but how beautiful the piece is as a whole. This is an example of something that would have been missed when not viewing the piece in person because, in the photos above, the labels on the strips are indiscernible.

Another thing I really liked about the artwork was that it was made entirely from discarded bottle tops of brand-name liquor bottles. This aspect of the artwork sends the message that used materials can be recycled and appreciated further.

Looking at this piece made me feel pensive and even a little confused. It raises so many questions regarding its shape and texture. Why did the artist make the artwork wavy? What is the reason for having one portion of the "cloth" jutting out of the bottom-right side? Perhaps the waviness is employed for this unconventionally stiff tapestry to better resemble others, though the latter question is harder to answer.

DESIGN OF THE MUSEUM

Okakagbe Masquerade Costume - made of cotton (2003)

The museum's design played a big part in my enjoyment of this piece of artwork. In the background of the above photos, multiple pieces are visibly packed into a corner, their auras encroaching on each others'. However, when walking up to this costume, I was able to feel a sense of intimacy and seclusion, almost as if I were having a one-on-one experience with it. The curators likely realized that this piece is not only eye-catching but needs more space to itself to really shine, or in this case, simultaneously appear both mystifying and creepy.

"Old Man's Cloth" - also shown in the last section, this piece demonstrates the ability of the museum's design to accommodate large artwork while not feeling cramped

ART AND CORE VALUES

"Excavation" - tempera on plaster (1926)

This piece of art appeals to my values of hard work and dedication. When I saw it, I imagined an artist sitting near the four men and painting while they are so absorbed in what they are doing that they fail to even notice the bystander. On that note, this artwork is symbolic of the perfect worker, one who has such a resolve to finish his job that his surroundings have no effect on his concentration. The piece is, in essence, resembling what people should strive for when going about their goals.

Though the piece serves to provide a model for the ideal worker, I believe it also conveys a message regarding the journey of life and learning: it never ends and neither should our efforts to improve. I was able to conclude such a statement by considering the art in a temporal sense. Once painted onto the canvas, the image is unchanging throughout time. What this means for the fictitious workers is that their task will never be done regardless of how diligently they work at any given moment.

ART AND THE GOOD LIFE

Seated Buddha - stucco with traces of polychrome (4th—5th Century)

The good life can be defined in many ways. Is it the presence of a happy family? Perhaps for some it is money? While I do not know exactly what constitutes the good life, it is obvious to me when I come across something that surely is at odds with reaching the good life.

For starters, it is almost indisputable that anger is one path that leads its followers away from the good life. That is why those who seek the good life should try to avoid it. When I look at this piece, I feel and think of sensations of tranquility. Buddha, who is believed to be one of the most enlightened beings, radiates a feeling of calmness and balance to those around him. It is through striving to be perfect like him that many people find happiness and serenity. Because Buddha is such a well-known beacon of peace, when seen, he serves as a reminder to look inward and assess our feelings and human experience so that we may better shape our future to lead us to what we individually believe to be the good life.

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