Examining Art: My Trip to the Harn Museum Griffen Bloshinsky

I had the privilege of visiting the Harn Museum of Art in Gainesville, Florida, and while there had the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the good life through art. Not only could I reflect on my own values, but those of others as well.

medium of the Art/Technique of the Artist

What is art? Art can be seen as any form of expression, and can be conveyed through a wide variety of media. An important aspect of modern art is freedom of expression, and being able to make your own decisions with your art. When I came across this piece, I immediately stopped in order to check what it was made of. It caught my attention unlike any other piece around it and forced me to think, which was something that I had not yet experienced at the museum. This untitled piece by John Chamberlain stretches the definition of media and forces a new perspective from the viewer.

Each artist develops their own style over time, and that involves exeprerimenting with a variety of media. Chamberlain started creating art when he began to crush cars, and from that starting point he developed his artistic vision. He attempted to capture the americana culture of the 1960's and 1970's, and this is able to be seen through the piece. Using aluminum foil to replicate the idea of crushed cars, he challenges the idea of "the medium". While sticking to the standard conventions of pop art from 1971 he uses the primary colors and mixes it with his own new style. He effectively uses media to force the viewer to reevaluate what they consider art and to evoke emotions of a certain period.

Chamberlain stands apart from the "traditional" idea of art, and he breaks free from the norm. Separating yourself from everyone else can be a difficult task, especially if no one has led the way before you. Chamberlain experimented with aluminum foil as his choice of medium, and while there are people that had begun to reinvent the idea of the medium before him, he found his own way of doing so and was still able to stand out.

Texture is a component of art that can often go under appreciated. Using media as a tool of creating varied texture, Chamberlain expands from the concept of the 2D into the 3D. When looking at a piece of 2D art, no matter how well painted texture can be, it is only painted. The artist creates real physical texture int he piece which creates a much more varied and dynamic look for the viewer. It is very different than most styles of art, but it is what best helps him express his viewpoint.

Design of the Museum

If and once we reach the good life, we must find a way of sharing it with others. Despite the fact that one person's good life may differ from that of another person, we do not live alone in this world, so we must find a way to make it work with others. The job of the curator is very difficult because they are tasked with taking works from others, and presenting them in such a way that they are desirable to the viewer. Not only must it look aesthetically pleasing, but it must tell the story that the artist intended.

Standing out from the rest of the exhibit, this area of the museum containing the painting Niña en lila con flores caught my eye. The soft pastels of the painting by Gustavo Montoya are perfectly paired with a milky trim and a gold frame. Not only does it compliment the piece, but it helps it stand out from the surrounding area which used a different style of framing. The museum bought the painting and is obviously very proud to house the artwork, so they wanted to make sure it stood out from the rest. It is important to frame a piece correctly because by doing so you are also attempting to best present the way that the artist intended their piece of work to be seen.

Being able to frame or present something correctly means that you are conveying a message. The message received will be different for everyone and interpretation is the beauty of art, but there should also be some intention in telling a story. In order to fully understand a piece of work, you must understand the physical context of the piece, and you must be able to compare and contrast it to its surroundings. The Hard Museum expertly was able to frame and place this piece in an area in which it would get the recognition it deserves. By combining the perspective of the artist and the perspective of the curator, a new experience is created for the viewer.

Art and Core Values

While it does not have to be religious, it is important that everyone have some sort of belief system in their life in order to achieve a good life. While passing a piece called the Seated Bodhisattva it evoked senses of personal morals and values. In order to stay true to yourself and ensure that you can keep living the life you enjoy, you must make sure to keep following the tenets important to you.

The Seated Bodhisattva

On the hands of the depicted bodhisattva are mudras, which are hand gestures that can depict certain feelings, words, or concepts. These stand as a physical representation for the artist which reminds others and themselves to stay true to certain ideals. By manifesting beliefs into art and using the mudras as a guide, the artist communicates a perspective. It shows who they want to be, and who they think others should be like.

Living by what you believe is very important, and the people that made this statue needed a physical representation of how they wanted to live their lives. Their personal beliefs were so crucial that they had to commemorate them in some way. While everyone has different values that are important to them, being able to express belief through one's actions and personality are important to everyone's good life.

Art and the Good Life

Finding the good life is being able to find whatever makes you satisfied in life. In order to find the good life everyone must take a separate path, as everyone has their own perspectives and views. When I read the name of this piece, Negros y Mulatas, I became interested and wanted to learn more about the artist. The name refers people of African descent and people of mixed race, which seemed to be a bold title for a piece. As I read I discovered that artist, Pedro Figari, was an activist as well as a painter. Figari was able to combine the two things he enjoys and convey his viewpoint of life.

When trying to do so it may be necessary to reinvent yourself or find a new way of living your life. Traditional art was considered to be that of realism and naturalism, but people became to realize that they can branch out from that style. In the piece you can clearly tell it is a group of people in a home or other common space, but every detail isn't done to perfection. There is no sense of blending, and almost each brush stroke is visible. In this period, artists became more experimental and attempted to break free from the standard conventions of art was supposed to be. Figari clearly found what he thought his style was and what would make him the most pleased with his work.

Negros y Mulatas

When finding the good life, it is necessary to find a way of expressing it and sharing it with others. Pedro Figari wanted to show how he viewed the world by using Uruguayan and African culture. He found a theme that he thought was most applicable to his lifestyle, and used it as his vehicle. The subjects in this painting, while blurry with very rough strokes, convey the story of people with African descent in Uruguay. In order to communicate a message, he has created a unique and individual lens for viewing the world.

Art cannot be tied down to a single definition. When asking "What is art?", one must also be prepared to ask "What isn't art?". Expression can be captures and represented in a wide variety of forms, which is similar to finding the good life. The good life is different for every single person, and once they've found it they must find a means of expressing it. The ambiguity of art is what makes it such an important concept to the good life. It leaves you constantly questioning the decisions or yourself and of other, and allows you to create something that is ideally you.

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