Tour of the Harn Museum of Art Mila Gajić


In order to understand the message and effort artists put in their works, those have to be viewed in person. It is important to stand in front of the artwork and to witness all its mediums, details, scratches or illusions. We make our own impressions through experience and we can't be impressed by art if it does not communicate to us in person. I love going to the art museums but this is the first time I went to one and I thought about what is it that makes good life or how does art represents it. By having this topic in mind, it was easier to understand many ways in which art is connected to the promotion of the good life. Not only seeing the works first hand facilitates this, but the design of Harn Museum itself. As visitors walk in, first they view most of the sculptures from ancient times and the art made in prehistory and eventually they come to see contemporary, modern paintings by living artists. This design and richness that museum offers makes it possible for us to see how people used art as their creative outlet throughout their existence. For some people, doing art is a way to have a goof life, whereas some of them portray what is it that they would consider a goof life or a better world. The richness of the collections at the museum also supports the fact that we all have different expectations and imaginations about a good life and everyone can find their own representation of it, whether it is a very colorful and big painting or a simplistic sculpture of minimal size. The visit to the museum while thinking about concept of good life definitely helps to seek our own values in the artwork viewed. We admire the artworks and we constantly try to determine what was the artist's message, but we rarely think about what is it that we see in the artwork and what are our own associations. In this visit, I learned that whenever we view a piece of art, we have to explore what, if any, of our own values are represented in it. In this visit, I found many artworks that I liked, but it required much more than just first impression to find the ones that really represented the themes from the task. I had to analyze the descriptions, colors, shapes and motives to assess whether particular artwork really represents my core values or expectations about good life. This visit helped me become much more analytical and competent when viewing artworks.

Medium of the Art/Technique of the Artist:

Photo 1: ''Old Man's Cloth'' by El Anatsui, photo by Lamija Repesa

The artwork I chose for the first aspect of this story is ''Old Man's Cloth'' made by Ghanaian artist El Anatsui in 2003. The piece is made of copper wire and Aluminium. This artwork looks like a hanged tapestry made out of old, flattened bottle tops and it depicts the transformation of discarded material into contemporary and meaningful work. By comparing the perspectives of viewing the image of the artwork and viewing it in person, I realized that there is a huge difference in seeing it first hand, mainly because it is impossible to come closer on the Internet and see what are the individual pieces that comprise this artwork. Viewing this piece in person, helped me stand in front of it, admire it and question what could all those shiny pieces be. Then, I was able to approach to it and discover that every fragile piece is an old, flattened discarded bottle top or piece of colored metal. Before fully dedicating my attention to this work, when I first saw it I thought that it is made of gold or textile. I would not imagine that such a spectacular piece is made of bottle tops and by realizing that it is, it was a main factor that contributed to the great impression I had. I think that viewing this artwork in person is the only way to fully appreciate its components and the creative way in which artist decided to turn something abandoned into spectacular work. More importantly. I was able to examine carefully and closely all the ways in which artist bent the pieces so that from the distance, the artwork looks like it is melting or barely hanging, which is greatly contributing to the outstanding visual effect. By viewing all the tiny and unusual details in person, combined with the way they were attached, I gained an insight into artist's creative ideas and I started thinking about how striking it is that so many materials that can be used to let out creative energy and make something meaningful. Seeing this piece in person, makes me feel more appreciative towards all kinds of art. This is because we have huge amount of access to virtual ways in which we can see art and we don't take time to visit a museum or examine the artwork in person. I learned that standing in front of artwork is so much more useful than sitting in front of screen and looking at it. We get to appreciate the medium only when we see it.

Design of the Museum

Photo 2: In the Harn Museum of Art next to ''Pli Selon Pli'', photo by Lamija Repesa

This is the part of the museum where abstract-natural artworks are exhibited. it is the design of the museum that makes viewing them so enjoyable because it conveys the natural and peaceful environment perfectly. This design of having an outdoor, beautifully decorated space visible from the museum's huge window, gave me impression like all these artworks are exhibited in nature, like I was walking through small forest while coming along all these beautiful pieces. In the picture, there is ''Pli Selon Pli'' sculpture by Akiyama Yo. It is also the lighting that makes the exhibits so appealing. This section has dim lights because it receives the natural lights from big windows. Getting natural lights from the outside contributes to the visual effect of displaying pure nature. The exhibit made me feel calmer and relaxed because the first thing I saw when I entered this section, is the outdoor space full of trees and the overall presentation looked like a painting. Then, after entering I focused my attention on the biggest work presented in the middle of the room, continuing to the other artworks presented all around the room. So, it is also the arrangement of the artworks and use of space that makes this section so appealing. Combining artistic representations of nature with the view of real natural environment is the perfect factor for conveying meanings and making the tour of the museum so enjoyable for everybody.

Art and Core Values

Photo 3: ''Black Flame'' by Tanaka Tomomi, photo by Lamija Repesa

For the ''Art and Core Values'' aspect of my story, I chose ''Black Flame'' sculpture by Japanese artist Tanaka Tomomi. The sculpture is made of stoneware. As soon as I saw this artwork, it reminded me of one of my values, which is the personal growth. The flame is a symbol of continuity and source of energy. The flame depicted in this sculpture is wild and strong. Combined with the black color, which can be associated with something negative, for me this sculpture symbolizes something that I think about often. It is that, no matter what unexpected or negative happens in our life, if we survive whatever it is, we are still here and we have to continue living. More importantly, I believe that every experience, including the negative ones, are lessons from which we always learn something new that can benefit us in future or open up new opportunities and interpretations. That is, life is like a flame - it is continuous and we have to walk through it even if it's black. This artwork helped me understand that such experiences can largely contribute to personal growth, by realizing how we can use our past experiences as lessons that will make us smarter and stronger in future and teach us how we can further develop our potentials. I think that going thought difficult times (''Black Flame'') is what teaches us how to enhance the quality of our life and our capacities and therefore it is a great part of personal growth, which is something I value very much in life. It can also represent values for personal beliefs and acceptance. Quickly recognizing my beliefs by seeing this artwork helped me better understand my values. The work inspires me and evokes emotions such as confidence and passion.

Art and the Good Life

Photo 4: ''White Closed-Form Vessel'' by Toshiko Takaezu, photo by Lamija Repesa

For this aspect of the story, I chose sculpture ''White Closed-Form Vessel'' made by Toshiko Takaezu in 1990s. After reading the short description of it, I understood that Toshiko Takaezu referred to an artist as a ''poet in his or her own medium. and when an artist produces a good piece, that work has mystery, an unsaid quality; it is alive.'' This refers to what I think about the good life. It is very subjective and it solely depends on our own values. We have the potential to make something out of our lives and we are all artists with our own medium and canvas in that sense. I think that good life is about creating what you desire and following what you believe. We cannot find the good life, but we have to create it, which is how I think this artwork is related to the good life theme. By seeking the good life, it is up to us to make crucial steps and to follow our values and fight for what we love. By living this life, we already have the medium, but we have to be good artists. That is the thought about the good life that this artwork inspired in me. We have to produce the good work in order to reach the good life.


Cover picture: Me in the Harn Museum of Art, photo by Lamija Repesa

Photo 1: ''Old Man's Cloth'' by El Anatsui, photo by Lamija Repesa

Photo 2: In the Harn Museum of Art next to ''Pli Selon Pli'', photo by Lamija Repesa

Photo 3: ''Black Flame'' by Tanaka Tomomi, photo by Lamija Repesa

Photo 4: ''White Closed-Form Vessel'' by Toshiko Takaezu, photo by Lamija Repesa

All pictures were taken at Harn Museum of Art.

''The Poetry of Clay: Toshiko Takaezu''

''El Anatsui, Old Man's Cloth'' by Allison Young for Khan Academy

Created By
Mila Gajic


Photo Credits to Lamija Repesa

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