I visited the Harn Museum of Art on February 19th, 2017.
Technique of the Artist
"City Blocks" by Bertram Hartman
This oil painting on board was created by Bertram Hartman during the early twentieth century. He uses distinctive artistic techniques to convey the impressive, dominating structures of urban America. By painting from a bird's-eye view, he dwarfs the people and cars below. They appear to be as insignificant as ants in the face of the massive, imposing skyscrapers. In contrast, the city's buildings are stunning in their volume. According to the sign next to the artwork, Hartman usually painted the canyons of the southwest, and in this painting, he sought to portray the city block as a canyon-like landscape. He achieves this effect with the aerial view. In addition, Hartman uses rectangular shapes and straight lines to convey the city "blocks." Overall, the result is a striking image of a bustling, grandiose city.
Design of the Museum
"Highlights from Africa" Exhibit
The museum contained several exhibits that focused on particular regions of the world. There were American, Asian, Latin American, and African exhibits, and each flowed into the next. I found the layout of the African exhibit particularly compelling. It included several videos and photographs of the masks, costumes, and other artifacts being used in African cultures. One part of the exhibit focused on traditional outfits, which flowed smoothly into a section containing headdresses and masks. The unifying theme was the use of these objects to communicate with or please mystical spirits in African religions. The design of the exhibit made this idea easy to understand and visualize.
Art and Core Values
"St. Jean's Bay" by Leon Kroll
This oil painting on canvas shows an idyllic day by the water. The landscape is beautiful, with mountains, a bay, and luscious greenery. It appeals to my core value that taking part in relaxing recreational activities, with friends and family, is essential to the good life. In the picture, you can see a man fishing, two friends lounging and talking in the sun, and a woman sitting by herself, enjoying the scene. For me, it evoked feelings of joy and contentment. It made me think of a good life.
Art and the Good Life
Ancestor Spirit Masquerade Costume from the Yoruba people in Nigeria
This traditional costume from Nigeria was used in festivals of the Yoruba people. According to the sign, each outfit is designed to represent the spirit of a deceased family member, and the person wearing the outfit becomes that spirit. Calling one's ancestors is crucial to the Yoruba people's understanding of the good life. These rituals are designed to bring good fortune on their people, and are central to their cultural practices. They are community activities that aim to protect family, tradition, and society, revealing what the people believe is important. Seeing the masquerade costumes made me think of the role that art plays in culture, and in turn that culture plays in the good life. Another sign in the exhibit talked about the way that people are struggling to retain these cultural traditions, which are being lost in the modern era. This important part of the good life should be preserved, and one way to do so is through art.