The Water Garden and Everything Else an afternoon at the Harn

I went to the Harn Museum of Art on a Friday afternoon with my friend, Emma. This was my first time visiting the museum as a UF student, and I was interested in seeing what exhibits had been added and removed in the time that passed between my last and most recent visit.


We moved on to an exhibit for 20th century artworks, where I was intrigued by the use of color in several paintings.

Bicycles by Stuart Robert Purser [taken by Emma Lucadeema on 01/13/17]

Purser's use of color (specifically the dull beige and green tones) made the painting look almost drab. The image depicted, numerous faceless individuals on bikes, seemed to me as participants in a race. I felt somewhat anxious looking at the painting (though I'm smiling in this photo). The colors combined with my immediate assumption that the painting was illustrating a race of some kind brought to mind the phrase "rat race." The thought of pointless, endless competition with strangers makes me feel a little ill and this painting really encouraged this feeling through Purser's technique and color usage.

Design of the Museum

We visited several other sections of the museum before we happened upon a garden. I was instantly enthralled. From the outside, it didn't look like we could enter the gardens. They seemed like separate exhibits that we could only view from the outside. When I found out we could enter them, I didn't waste any time. The Water Garden near the Asian Art wing was easily my favorite part of the entire museum. As soon as we entered, I felt so relaxed. The sound of water bubbling under the bridge was much needed relief after an afternoon trying to find enjoy the museum for the sake of the assignment. When Emma and I sat in the garden for a break, we'd decided we completed the assignment and found that we could finally enjoy the rest of the museum to the fullest.

The best part of the museum [taken by Emma Lucadeema on 01/13/17]
A reflective experience [taken by Emma Lucadeema on 01/13/17]

Having green spaces interspersed with indoor artwork really helped reignite my interest in exploring the rest of the exhibits. Trying to find meaning in artworks was not conducive to actually enjoying the artwork. Gardens, however, did not need to be meaningful to be enjoyed and I really appreciated the thought that went into placing gardens (there three we came across) evenly throughout the museum.

Core Values

Excavation by Boardman Robinson [taken by Emma Lucadeema on 10/13/17]

It was not easy to find artwork during this visit that reflected or exemplified any of my core values. This painting is close enough. In it, several individuals seem to be working together to dig something up. I personally value team work and working toward a common goal with other like-minded individuals.

The Good Life

Prism by Marilyn Minter [taken by Emma Lucadeema on 10/13/17]

The "good life" means many different things to different people. For some, the so-called good life might be having an excess of wealth/power and being able to flaunt it. The photograph above, which depicts a woman with jewels falling out of her mouth, as excessive and erotic in its excess. The photograph somewhat subverts feminine ideals presented in the Embodying module (specifically in Bordo's piece) by showcasing a woman with a dripping, almost sweaty face and gems in her mouth (reminiscent of grills worn by a number of hip-hop artists to highlight personal wealth). To me, it exemplifies one version of the so called good life, but exaggerated to the point of absurdity (and therefore ridiculing the societal pressures that place material wealth as most important in achieving success in life).

This was not the most enjoyable visit to the Harn, in all honesty. The burden of the assignment overshadowed what enjoyment could have been derived from seeing all the new displays that had been added since the last time I visited. One reprieve was when I got to take a break and admire all the Chinese pottery in a huge glass case across from the entrance to the Asian wing. As an amateur potter, I was in awe at the complexity of design in the historical forms; I felt a personal connection to the art, which made me appreciate the display more than any of the paintings I did not feel connected to. I would be likely to visit the museum again sometime within the next few months on my own.

Created By
Atia Khan


All photos taken by and used with permission from Emma Lucadeema

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