Plato, when talking about the best life and pleasure, wrote about the life of an oyster in perfect living conditions. He asserted that even though this oyster might be in constant pleasure, no person would trade lives with it. This is because of the value we place of intellectual pleasures, such as the arts. I went to the Harn museum with a friend and realized just how intrinsic this value is. Here, my path was guided by four themes, described below, that made my overall experience pleasurable and the first of many more art museum adventures.
Medium and Technique
El Anatsui (Ghanaian, b. 1944). Old Man’s Cloth. 2003
This was the first piece of art to capture my attention upon entry to the museum. At first glance, it seemed like a giant blanket. However, upon closer inspection when I read the work "whiskey," I realized that it was composed entirely of foil from old liquor bottles. I would not have been able to make this discernment from just the photo above. The in-person viewing thus enhanced my perception of the message behind this work of art. This odd composition did not make sense to me until I thought more about each aspect and their contrasting effects. The blanket resembles an older manufacturing technique that requires a lot of painstaking labor in different steps from many different people. The liquor bottle labels, on the other hand, relates back to both colonialism and the slave trade, where people were traded across the Atlantic for liquor. The artist desired to have these two polar opposite ideas, symbiosis and antibiosis, included into one piece of art and thus implemented this combined medium. This also provoked me to think about alcohol from a college students perspective and how it is affecting the wonderful tapestry that is the community in the world today.
Design of the Museum