The Harn Museum of Art By David Summa

The Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art at the University of Florida, created in 1990, is a center of culture expressed through more than 6200 works of art. At first, I was skeptical of the journey I was about to take, since the experience was forced. However, once I walked into the Harn, and gazed upon the grand interior architecture and traversed the maze of artistic expression, I found the experience to be a wonderful journey into the ideas of others. Although a friend accompanied me, the experience served as a deeply personal reflection upon myself and my beliefs.

Medium of the Art / Technique of the Artist

Figure 1: A sculpture made by William Zorach, and its description.

At first glance, this sculpture of a chicken-like form seems unassuming: I could have easily passed by it without a second thought. However, on closer inspection, it was made clear to me what ideas William Zorach was trying to communicate through the sculpture. Seeing the smoothness, the reflection, and the multi-dimensionality gave me a unique perspective of the sculpture, something I could only have by viewing it in person. The simplicity of the geometric form was what stood out to me the most, that an animal could be portrayed by such a collection of circular blobs. To me, the sculpture communicated an underlying simplicity to all of life, something I strive for everyday. If a chicken could be constructed from simple spheroids, then all of life can possibly be modeled by simple principles. The artwork gave me a feeling of contentment, like I was escaping the complexity of everyday life.

Design of the Museum

Figure 2: Inside the David A. Cofrin Asian Art Wing

While the overall design of the museum was pleasing in its entirety, the Asian Art Wing in particular stood out to me. Unlike the majority of the museum, the Asian Art Wing was constructed almost entirely out of wood. The wood construction, along with the outdoor garden, evoked an earthy feeling within me: I felt close to nature as I wandered within it. The wide open space of the wing allowed my mind to expand, as if it was the perfect place for me to sit down and think. There was minimal artificial lighting, however, natural light entering through the garden window provided all light necessary for the experience. Overall, the Asian Art Wing made me feel free, due to the connection to the outdoors, and gave me a sense of expansion.

Art and Core Values

Figure 3: The Infinite Pillars, and their description.

One of my core values is achievement: I believe it is important to strive for challenging goals in order to improve ourselves. The Infinite Pillars, although simplistic in design, embody this core value in their construction. When I first looked upon the Infinite Pillars, I saw both a pillar of infinite possibility and a staircase, an obstacle which must be overcome to achieve the possibilities. To me, the artwork serves as a reminder of challenges I had overcome, and challenges which await in the future. I felt inspired as I looked upon the Infinite Pillars, both by the concept of achievement I derived from the pillars, and by their simple, yet effective, design. The pillars helped me understand that my goals do not necessarily have to be grandiose to be fulfilling.

Art and the Good Life

Figure 4: Casita al mar, and its description.

One of the main themes of the Good Life is the journey which some people take in order to achieve it. Many seek the Good Life by striving to live a simpler life: for example, on his quest to attain enlightenment, Herman Hesse's character Siddhartha abandons all worldly possessions. Although not evident at first, I believe Casita al mar (Little House by the Sea) embodies this theme. The picture depicts a small house, with all of its doors and windows open and all of its interior furniture seemingly removed. The background is bare, with a single border between blue and green representing the horizon line. If we think of houses as symbols for our minds, then this picture represents someone who has given up their worldly attachments, someone who is trying to seek the Good Life. Casita al mar helps me appreciate how attached we are to the material world, and how much some are willing to let go of to live a Good Life.

Created By
David Summa


All photos taken by author.

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