Good Life Tour of the Harn By:Dharma Santos-Santiago

Medium of the Art/ Technique of the Artist

An artwork that I saw at the Harn that caught my eye was the Imari Charger from Japan. The curators know it came from the Meiji Period but the artist is unknown. The Imari Charger is a ceramic plate made of porcelain and it is decorated with enamel and gilt. This porcelain plate was in a display case filled with dozens of other ceramic art but its vivid colors and astounding details immediately drew me towards it. Working with clay bodies, more specifically wheel throwing, is a very delicate and difficult form of art. Even the slightest hand movement can throw your whole work off balance and then you have to start all over. Furthermore, porcelain is a white clay body which means that is even more finicky to work with. Whenever I see a ceramic piece I immediately have much respect for it. Who knows how many trial and errors it took the artist to throw and fire that one porcelain plate. Additionally, I adore the precise flower decoration that is painted all across the plate. The mix of blues, greens, and reds made me full of joy. I appreciate the work as a whole and hold much respect for the artist who spent countless hours on it.

Design of the Museum

The David A. Coffin Asian Art Wing was by far my favorite architecture and layout of the museum. The open entrance presents the museum visitor with the beautiful open space. The wood ceilings and floors brought about a calm feeling inside of me. Furthermore, the center, far wall of the exhibit is completely glass and displays the Asian Art Wing Garden. Walking through the exhibit and being able to turn and look at the lush greenery also instilled a feeling of giddy within me because I absolutely love the outdoors. The glass wall also brought in vast amounts of light so it felt like a breath of fresh air compared to the closed in exhibits that filled up the rest of the museum. The designers of the Asian Art Wing kept the space open. The displayed art was concentrated on the sides of the Wing which was ideal because it did not detract from the beauty of the garden. The two artworks that laid in the center were low and also resembled nature, further promoting a feeling of peace.

Art and Core Values

“Frida Kahlo on White Bench” was a color carbon print photograph taken by Nickolas Muray in 1939. As one can deduct from the title, the photograph was a portrait of the famous Frida Kahlo. Muray’s photograph appealed to my value of female empowerment. I’m constantly trying to find ways to empower myself and other females around me. In today’s society, women are constantly being degraded, antagonized, and taken advantage of. This behavior comes from both men and women. I believe that women have just as much importance in every culture as men do and we should be treated as such. First off I appreciate that Muray’s portrayal of Kahlo is not celebrating her body or daintiness. Kahlo is fully clothed and has a calm look on her face. You can feel her strong, confident presence through her eyes. Her calm composure further strengthens that sense of confidence. Having Kahlo in the center of the photo makes her unavoidable to the viewer. When one views the photo, she is the first thing the eyes are drawn to. Afterwards your eyes may fall to either her clothes or the flower-filled background. I feel that the flowers bring back the femininity into the photograph. The femininity mixed with the sense of confidence Frida exudes deeply resonates with me. It reminds me that all women have the ability to do as they please, whether they want to be feminine, masculine, or a blend of both, it is up to them. The combined elements of the photograph remind me that women the right to accomplish whatever they set their minds to and we do not have to conform to the expectations of anyone.

Art and the Good Life

“Hormone Imbalance, Melanin Deficiency” by the Guerilla Girls embodies this week’s good life theme: Fighting for the Good Life. This digital media print from 1993 brings the inequality women artists and artists of color face in the industry directly to the museum visitor. The print displays the front cover of an older edition of the New York Times Magazine. The front cover holds the title “Arnold Glimcher and His Art World All-Stars”. The people depicted in the photo are all white middle aged men. It is clear to anyone that it is not an accurate representation of the talent in the art world and the Guerilla Girls call it out by writing “Hormone Imbalance. Melanin Deficiency.” in a bold, large block font directly under the magazine cover. The Guerrilla girls are creating this art for the wellbeing of others, not just themselves. Their aim is justice just like Martin Luther King Jr. or Nelson Mandela. They are willing to receive backlash for their feminist art if it helps out the greater good. You can feel that in the strong messages they put on their digital media prints. They are presenting the information in a non-violent way which is also reminiscent of MLK Jr., Mandela, and countless other historical figures. The work of the Guerilla Girls shows me that there are an infinite amount of ways one can non-violently fight for the good life.

All photos are my own.

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