The Harn Museum of Art By: Samantha Albino

Cover photo credit belongs to Jared. All other photo credit belongs to myself and my friend, Nicole Marie.


On Saturday, January 7, I went to the Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art for my first time. However, it was not my first time viewing an art museum. I've been to numerous art museums in the past including the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art and the Dalí Museum. I come from a family of nearly all artists, so art has been a huge part of my life. I was particularly very excited for my visit to the Harn more so than my visit to the Florida Museum of Natural History. I felt as though it would be easier for me to connect to the artwork at the Harn than the exhibits at the Florida Museum of Natural History. Ultimately, I hoped that my visit to the Harn would give me some inspiration for my own artwork whether it be for sculpture, painting, sketching, or writing. As I completed the tour of the Harn, I realized that I was equally influenced by the Florida Museum of Natural History and the Harn to create something new and inspiring that showed a deeper understanding of the connection between nature and our lives.

Medium of the Art:

As I first entered the Museum, to my left was displayed a piece of artwork done by El Anatsui called "Old Man's Cloth."

The artist of this painting, El Anatsui, endured the brutal effects of colonialism in Ghana. This piece is a response to the trauma that the people of Ghana had to go through. The "cloth" is made from the tops of tossed out European liquor bottles with elitist names such as "Chairman" or "King Sullivan." These names remind the people of Ghana of the cruel rule they were subjected to. It reminds them of their mistreatment and abuse. These bottles represent the foreigners who invaded and disrupted their nation. These liquor tops were woven together to resemble African kente cloth, the traditional cloth used to celebrate wisdom and unity. I find that he turned these liquor bottles into kente cloth quite striking; I find that it represents how the people have grown from their suffering and become unified and even stronger. It is the ultimate symbol of nation brought together majestically, a nation that has withstood against the odds and grown from its trials. Trash, the liquor bottles, was recycled into beautiful art, and in the same way, the oppressed people of Ghana came together to reestablish their rule and peace; Ghana became an independent nation.

Had I seen this artwork in a mere photo, I would not have been able to see its defining details; it would be difficult to tell that the cloth has been made from bottle tops. It would not be able to evoke an understanding of the Ghana people's trials as much as it would have in person. This artwork made me feel hope. It proved that even in the greatest of trials, we can still battle through and gain unity and strength from our experiences.

Design of the Museum:

As I made my way through the Harn, I fell in love with the Asian Art Wing. The view was absolutely mesmerizing.

asian art wing

The ambiance of the Asian Art Wing is set by the backdrop of an authentic asian water garden. The mastermind behind this breathtaking addition to the Asian Art Wing is Hoichi Kurisu, a distinguished designer of Japanese gardens. As I walked through the garden I felt a great deal of peace and serenity. The garden included many plants and features such as a reflective pond, waterfall, and a footbridge. Hoichi Kurisu's design of the garden is very effective in that it helps further one's understanding of the importance and relevance of nature in Asian culture and artwork.

The Reflective Pond
Asian pottery by unknown artist

Nature is prevalent throughout the asian art. By observing the asian water garden in this wing, it is easy to understand where these artists got there inspiration from and why they chose this scenery to include in their artwork: the garden is mesmerizing, the water is enchanting, and the soft wind through the trees creates a perfect scene of undeniable bliss and peace.

"Boulder with Figures in a Landscape" by unknown artist
Asian pottery by unknown artist

Art and Core Values:

first generation and proud!

As I continued to explore the museum, one piece of artwork in particular stood out from the rest: an oil painting done by Hiram D. Williams, who use to be an art professor at the University of Florida. This painting is called the "Swimming Gator," and it represents my belief in the importance of an education.

Hiram D. Williams' painting the "Swimming Gator," spoke to me on a very personal level. Most people may only see the painting for it's most literal translation; however, I see it as much more than that. Many may see it as just a swimming gator, whereas I see it as a symbol that encompasses who I am. I am a Gator, a college student here at the University of Florida, and I have been given an opportunity to earn a college degree, something that no one in my family has been able to do. I look at this painting and it makes me feel proud, proud that I have come this far, and excited for what the future holds for me. It reminds me of what I hope to achieve: to make my family proud and to be able to provide for them just as much as they have for me. Education is something we often take for granted; not everyone has the chance to achieve a higher education, which can often open doors to better jobs and unique experiences. The gator is in motion, it's moving forward, and like the gator, an education allows us to advance forward to greater opportunities.

Art and the Good Life:

This piece is titled "New England Farm" and was done by Maugerite Zorach, an american artist who's works were inspired by French artwork and culture, in 1918 . The art medium she utilized was oil paint and it was completed on canvas and then mounted on wood paneling.

This painting evokes my belief in the power and strength of family. The environment of the painting is dark and dead; night has fallen, trees are dead and cut, and the land is drab and darkly colored and empty of life. However, despite the pain of the surroundings, the home and woman amidst it all are in brilliant colors, red and green. The home and family is alive and thriving. The dangers and troubles of the outside world have not been able to drain the family of life, to break it apart. A family sticks together through all and any odds. All one needs is family, and one can survive anything because the love one has for another drives us to keep going, to keep moving forward. This piece reminds me that I want to keep my family protected and together throughout all times. It helps me visualize what I consider to be part of my good life: that family is important and should be cherished and protected.

Created By
Samantha Albino


Created with images by jared422_80 - "Gainesville - Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art - Roadside Sculpture"

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