Alex At The Harn By: Alexandra Ramirez

Introduction

A selfie in front of Yvonne Jacquette's "Chelsea Composite II"

The Harn Museum provides a moving representation of work by various artists. Each aspect of the experience, whether it be design, technique, purpose, or connection the Good Life, emphasizes the importance of unique perspectives and their artistic adaptation in representing universal themes of the Good Life. Through this process, I was able to encounter remarkable works that challenged my preexisting notions and gave me a greater appreciation for societal representation of various mediums.

Medium of the Art Technique of the Artist

Audrey Flack's "Islandia, Goddess of the Healing Waters" is a remarkable art figure that embodies the spirit of grandeur, democracy, and gender equality. Viewing the work in person allowed me to visually interpret the intricate utilization of polychrome and gilded plaster and appreciate a modern adaptation of classical sculpture. Such a perspective would not have been possible behind a computer screen given the importance of perceiving this interpretation from multiple angles. I found Flack's deliberate orientation of the figure striking because it is in a position of power given its stature over viewers and welcoming posture. Thus, I perceived this as a feminist heroine displaying her societal value and capability for future reform.

A selfie in front of "Islandia, Goddess of the Healing Waters" by Audrey Flack

Design of the Museum

A selfie in an open part of the exhibit entitled "Intra-action: Women Artists from the Harn Museum"

Within the Harn Museum exists an exhibit dedicated to the work of female artists. I found one section of this space, styled after a living room, particularly appealing because it served as a metaphorical invitation into the "private homes" of the artists and their experiences. Rather than simply walking by each painting and selecting those that were visually appealing, I was able to relax and ponder the intended purpose of each work given the design of the room. The set-up encouraged relaxed debate about the paintings, but also served as a subtle symbol of the societal emphasis on the home in the experiences of women. The muted, yellow lighting emanated a warm and inviting nature, while the hardwood finish made the space seem more open.

Art and Core Values

Marilyn Minter's "Wangechi Gold #6" appealed to my core value of feminism. As a female teenager in the 21st century, I have matured in the demographic that is targeted the most by the consumer industry's obsession with physical perfection. Such an experience is reflected in the work of Minter as she has dedicated her career to highlighting a "pathology of glamour" in which women are pressured into assuming a desirable exterior every morning, while disassembling this facade every night. This emphasis on the idealization of women negates the potential for intellectual prosperity and diminishes our character to a single layer of physical appearance. Minter's work allowed me to explore this concept given that the photograph is of a minority woman.

A selfie in front of "Wangechi Gold #6" by Marilyn Minter

Rather than depicting a stereotypical Western woman, the artist persuasively demonstrates the universal plight of all females through the inclusion of a varied skin tone. The use of shimmering gold, bright blue, and zoomed in lens focuses my attention on marketed objects of desire. The artwork instills a sense of comfort and mutual understanding given that there are numerous women who share similar values. It affords me greater understanding of how women must resist the societal pressure of perfection and focus on mutual support and success.

Art and the Good Life

A selfie in front of Justine Kurland's "Sheep Wranglers"

Kurland's print evokes an idyllic form of the Good Life through the juxtaposition of adolescent girls engaging in innocent acts amidst a landscape of a pasture that is often depicted with male characters. This masterful and deliberate detachment of reality calls into question the affect of patriarchal society on the experiences of females and how their history would be fundamentally altered, potentially for the better, if gender oppression were non-existent. Thus, the Good Life theme depicted in this art is "Embodying the Good Life" through individual happiness in the absence of cultural hindrance. This is communicated through the use of verdant colors and soft, natural lighting, which evokes a simplistic joy in a viewer. Kurland augments my comprehension of this theme through a visual representation of the struggles that all girls face as they attempt to assemble their identity within intangible boundaries.

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