Good Life at the Harn Aldrin Gaffud

Medium of the Art/Technique of the Artist

This piece is titled "The Woodcutter," and was created by Robert Gwathmey with oil on the canvas. It is a depiction of black sharecroppers stoically chopping wood. Th physical strokes were visible in person and not in this picture. Seeing the strokes let me relate the work he put into this piece as the sharecroppers he created working on the field. It was very eye-catching because the strokes also added a third-dimension to the piece that can only be appreciated from up close. Gwathmey also used cubism in his art, thus creating geometric figures and identifiable shapes in the grass, the logs, and the clothing of the workers. The cubism on the clothing especially made the work more interesting I attributed the shapes and shades to rags and patches that could have very well been accurate to the time period. The 1940s and prior were memorable in their use of people of color as labor, treating them as sub-human. I felt sympathy for the workers in this piece and I also felt a connection to history. I was given a glimpse into a time period long before myself and I saw a fraction of their life back then through the perspective of an outsider.

Design of the Museum

Panoramic of the David A. Cofrin Asian Art Wing with me in the center

The David A. Cofrin Asian Art Wing of the Harn was the most astonishing exhibit to me, in terms of the interior design and layout. I am a very big fan of open layouts and that is what this room exactly was. An open layout guarded by a wooden double entrance that held centuries of Asian culture. As I entered the room, my eye was immediately drawn to the much larger pieces found in the center of the room. The stone structures on the wood floor impacted me more than they would if they were propped on top of podiums. This is due to their natural essence and direct connection to the Earth. I really liked how the back wall contained giant windows that showed the accessible mini botanical garden in the back. These windows were the main contributors to my enjoyment of the room because the plethora of natural light allotted in, I felt, highlighted the art pieces. The works in the exhibit showcased tradition and I get to see them as the artists created them, in natural light. I feel very at peace and open in this wing of the museum because it was created to take the most advantage of the natural setting, and I felt the most connected to nature. This allowed me to appreciate the Asian culture more.

Art and Core Values

The Guerrilla Girls exhibit highlighted the inequality in the art world between men and women as well as white artists and artists of color. The top piece was titled "You're seeing less than half the picture" and the bottom piece was "When racism and sexism are no longer fashionable, what will your art collection be worth?" While the titles are a bit long and kind of obvious, the purposes behind these pieces and the exhibit are very important to me. I would classify myself as a feminist, an advocate for women's rights on the basis that females should be socially and economically equal to males. These two pieces are slivers to what the whole exhibit signified to me. The objectification of women in art through time was brought to the forefront and how there is more women being displayed in the art at more renowned museums rather than the works of actual female artists and the lack of representation of work from a wider diversity of people are what both of these pieces bring attention to. It provokes a little outrage from me at the lack of inclusion and diversity even in the art world. Art is something that connects us to our humanity and globalizes people, but that cannot happen when a large majority of humanity is not represented by the successful artists (i.e. less than half the picture). I am brought back to my beliefs, which is why I constantly revisited this specific exhibit when I was at the Harn. I was aware of inequality in the economical perspective and what I have read about and observed in my everyday life, but now I am more knowledgeable that this inequality affects many more aspects of society that I did not think it would, like the art world.

Art and the Good Life

These two pieces are both included in the "Portfolio Plenas," and I decided to include them both because they are very similar. These visual music sheets relate to "Celebrating the Good Life" because of our focus on Beethoven's music and what his symphony created and symbolized. The top piece is called "Tintorera del mar" by Lorenzo Homar, and he collaborated with Rafael Tufino, who created the bottom piece, "Santa Maria." Both of these pieces utilize folk songs from their origins in Puerto Rick. Music is a major contributor to celebrating the good life, and folk music celebrates tradition and culture. Whether the actual songs are joyous or melancholy, they connect millions of people through history who can relate to that birthplace; celebrating centuries of history and culture of people. That is what Beethoven's music did. It connected people through the centuries and was used to celebrate momentous occasions and people's culture all over the world, not just in Europe. These pieces facilitate my understanding of what it is to celebrate the good life, to celebrate culture and tradition in a progressive and ever-changing era. I know hearing folk songs from the Philippines brings me back and makes me proud of where I come from, so I celebrate it.

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