One of the most striking artworks, that I came across at the Harn Museum of Art, was a color lithograph called Casita al Mar (Little house by the Sea) by Emilio Sanchez. When I first saw it hanging on the wall, I was drawn towards the bright red and white colors of the house against a bright blue sea and green landscape. The three dimensional shadowing and details on the house, made it seem as if the artwork were a photograph. It is amazing that a hand and imagination created such a realistic piece. Standing in front of the artwork made me wonder several things: What the inspired the artist to draw such a house? Was the house real? All I knew at the moment was that I felt as if I could reach into the drawing and become part of it. I felt as if I were there with Emilio Sanchez, gazing at the bright red and white home. The Casita al Mar, communicated a strong message to me. With the house taking up the majority of the frame and it being empty during daylight, I felt alone yet knew that there was hope for something more. Red represented a struggle that I have to face on my own…life. Yet, in the daylight that idea of a struggle could be flipped to become a retreat/ home that only I knew and was special to me. The artwork caused me to recognize that no one knows what it is fully like to be you, which is a burden and gift that we can learn to live with on our own.


The ‘Elusive Spirits: African Masquerades’ wing was the most appealing to me, in terms of arrangement and design. There were a variety of tribal masks, statues, sculptures, and photographed images all interwoven within one another. There was nothing else like it in the rest of the museum. When I walked into the exhibit, I instantly took notice of the arrangement of artworks. There were human sized statues, modeling tribal wear. They were on the floor, so guests could take a closer look at the details of the intricate fabric. There were also a variety of masks in brightly lit glass cases, which captured my full attention. I was drawn to each mask and felt that there was a rich history behind them. I could feel an energy radiating off of each one. In addition, the overall shape of the exhibit was interesting. It was not exactly square, but there was some areas where you had to go to an isolated wall to observe an artwork. For example, there was this 20th Century Ancestor Spirit Masquerade costume that was secluded from the rest of the artworks. In addition to that costume, there was a painting to go along with it. I believe this was set up, so the artwork became more intimate when the observer tries to connect with it. There were also multiple photographs in between the glass cases, pushes against the wall. It was as if once you gazed at the masks, you could look at a photograph to witness a tribal ceremony and understand the spirit behind the masks. I felt connected to the rich history of Africa.


One of my core values is achievement. In order to reach achievement, there is hard work and tribulations that one must undergo. Puertorican artist, Rafael Tufino, created a series of drawings called the Coffee Portfolios. He captured the essence of what it means to strive and work no matter the circumstance. In the Coffee Portfolios he creates images of men and women laboring to in the coffee fields, by picking and grinding beans. The visual representations were simple, yet they invoked a spirit of power and made me want to propel through life appreciating such simplicity and achievement. There was also an image of the Coffee laborers gathering together and celebrating during a work break. These artworks reinforced my belief in achievement, by witnessing the simplicity in the lives of the laborers. They are working hard to produce coffee and each person is concentrated in their area of work. The artworks made me realize that there may be struggle behind achievement, but it is part of everyone’s lives. We must embrace the struggle in order to truly admire/respect our achievements.


One of the more recent themes we discussed in Good Life was universality in terms of celebrations. There was an artwork done by Stuart Robert Purser, called Funeral. Everyone, at one point in their lives, will experience loss. It is part of what makes us human. The artwork was dark, and incited negative and melancholic emotions. There were people painted without faces all surrounded by a coffin on a grey-skied day. Their heads were hanging low and they were all wearing white. Although there is the idea of loss, there is also an aspect of coming together to celebrate a life and to grieve with others. Funerals oddly bring people together, and remind us of how precious life is. Life and death are universal, and the painting communicates this theme with a powerful and emotional visual representation. Universality provides humanity a chance to understand and empathize with one another, which helps to create a path to the goof life. Connecting with others is imperative to understanding who we are as humans.

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