About this sample
About this sample
Words: 2551 |
13 min read
Published: Feb 8, 2022
Words: 2551|Pages: 6|13 min read
Being that the University of Florida is home to a large and diverse population, it comes to no surprise that the Harn Museum of Art, located on the outskirts of the university's campus, successfully captures, and represents the diversity found within the university through its global exhibitions. With exhibitions such as the Peace, Power, and Prestige: Metal Arts in Africa exhibition that highlights the works from African communities, the Resilient Visions: Haitian Art exhibition that showcased art from Haitian culture, and the Conserving Treasures: Jamini Roy and Modern Indian Art exhibition that demonstrated works inspired from Indian culture, the Harn Museum of Art reflect and serves as an effective ambassador for cultural diversity in Gainesville.
With minority groups such as Hispanics, African Americans, Pacific Islanders, and Native Americans collectively making up 43.3% of the student population at the University of Florida as of 2019 (out of a total of 52,218 students), it is oftentimes difficult for minority students and staff alike to find mediums that serve as connections to their cultural roots (Florida, and Population). Individuals that fall under this minority category, like me, often find it difficult to connect with others when there is a lack of the cultural surroundings that the individual has been accustomed to and has grown up with. With that being said, the Harn Museum of Art provides a space for students, staff, and Gainesville locals to observe, learn, understand, and appreciate various works of art. The museum serves as a ground for individuals to get in touch with and learn about various cultures, as well as have minority students being able to view works of art and artifacts that relate to the cultures that they identify with. As is stated in the Harn Museum of Art's mission statement, '…The museum brings the joy of experiencing great works of art to diverse university, community, national and global audiences through relevant and enlightening art collections, exhibitions, and learning opportunities'. Within the Harn Museum of Art are several exhibitions that capture this sense of global diversity, stretching from the Haitian art exhibit to the Latin America exhibit ('About Us | Harn Museum Of Art'). In this paper, we will explore these diverse exhibits and discuss their relation to the diversity found in Gainesville.
South America is a culturally rich continent that consists of several Latin-American countries such as Colombia, Guatemala, Ecuador, Venezuela, and so forth. Being that Latin-America covers a large region filled with various ethnic groups and is home to roughly 600 million people, it is filled with a high level of diversity, culture, and tradition. Within this culture and tradition comes the dances, dishes, and tropical landscapes that Latin-America is most known for. However, despite the large population of Latin-America, only 20.7% of the student population in the University of Florida identify as Hispanic/Latinx (roughly 9,923 students) (Florida, and Population). With this small student population in combination with the few Hispanic/Latinx-influenced areas in Gainesville, it is often difficult for Hispanic and Latinx students to connect with Gainesville using their cultural roots. This is where the Harn Museum of Art plays a crucial role.
In the past, from November 2016 to November 2017, the Harn Museum of Art held an exhibition that highlighted and celebrated artists and works originating from South America. The works ranged from photographs to paintings and focused on various broad themes. One of the pieces that were showcased in this exhibition was created by Angel Botello and was named El Encuentro ('Spotlight: Latin America | Harn Museum Of Art')[image: ].
This piece depicts two groups of people, presumed to be Christopher Columbus and Haiti natives, in a state of conflict. This work has intricate colors and details embedded within it, as well as a high level of emotion. Botello, the creator of the art piece, was of Spanish-Puerto Rican descent and was known for his use of bold colors and depiction of what island life was like. Throughout his life, Botello traveled to many areas such as Haiti and Cuba, which allowed him to grasp an understanding of what life was like in various areas of the world. With this being said, Botello may act as a cultural medium to many students that identify with Botello and his work. Hispanic/Latinx individuals may feel a strong sense of community with Botello as he is of Spanish descent, as well as the art he produces is that they are heavily influenced by Hispanic and Latin culture. Even individuals who are Haitian may find that their culture is embedded into the works of Botello as he was heavily influenced by Haitian culture as he traveled and lived in Haiti for a duration of his life.
In essence, despite the Latin-American exhibit only having roughly 50 pieces, much can be drawn from one piece alone and demonstrates the amount of culture that can be embedded into the works of art the Harn Museum of Art showcases.
Haiti, a mountainous country that is one of the most heavily populated in the world, holds a population of nearly 7 million people with an influence on French and African culture. Despite having strong ties to these cultures, Haiti is known for following its independence by having distinct traditions in its music, foods, rituals, dance, religion, and dress. It is said that the Haitian culture is distinct from any other African or New World cultures. With that in mind, it is fair to say that Haitians are deeply embedded in their culture and hold it to high regard. However, even with a population of roughly 7 million people, almost 50,000 leaving the country every year to travel to the United States, the student population of those who identify as Black/African-American at the University of Florida is only 6.6% as of 2019 (Florida, and Population). With only a small influx of students who identify as Black/African-American, it can be hard for individuals to truly connect with their distinct cultures in Gainesville. Despite the lack of representation these students may feel that they have, the Harn Museum of Art takes into account various cultures into the art exhibits and serves a medium of culture for Haitian and other African individuals.
In the past, from April 2018 to November 2018, the Harn Museum of Art held an exhibit dedicated to honoring various pieces of art made by Haitian artists than spanned from 1969 to the first decade of the 21st century. These pieces revealed much of the Haitian culture, revealing what every day Haitian life was like to discussing historical and political scenes from Haitian life. One of the pieces that were showcased in the exhibit was made by an unknown artist and titled Bottle for Vodou Spirit Damballah, depicting what looks like a snake wrapping around a beautifully-colored bottle.
Haiti, as well as other African-influenced countries, are known for their religious belief typically known as 'Vodou' (or 'voodoo' to the outside world). This religious practice combines Catholic and African beliefs and focuses on healing the sick. This religious practice has several names, being known as mambo, bokò, or gangan, and are held to high regard as people make pilgrimages to holy sites to practice these beliefs as the religion is considered to be sacred. As for the serpent that is shown in this piece, is it named the 'Damballah' and is believed to be the life force who created the universe. He is the being that is believed to help sustain the world and creating sources of life. It is said that the Damballah lives in sources of water, perhaps explaining why the piece is of a serpent wrapped around a bottle, possibly containing a liquid of some sort.
As has been discussed, this one-piece reveals much about Haitian culture and serves as an effective medium for teaching those who do not know much about Haitian culture, as well as representing those who do identify as Haitian. With the little representation of Black/African-American culture that is found in Gainesville, the Harn Museum of Art does its part in representing all cultures and serving as a link to various cultures with the exhibits they include in their museum.
With one of the world's oldest cultures, India is home to more than 1.2 million people and is regarded as the second-most populous nation after China. Many consider India to be the first and supreme culture in the world with its eccentric religions, foods, textiles, clothes, architecture, and art. Despite India's large population, only about 8.3% of the student population within the University of Florida identifies as Asian as of 2019 (Contributor). With only 3,989 students out of 52,218 identifying as Asian, there is little to no representation of Asian culture within Gainesville (Florida, and Population). With little to no representation, students that identify with Asian culture may feel 'out of place' and unable to connect with their roots and with others. However, the Harn Museum of Art holds several exhibitions highlighting and representing Asian culture.
In the past, from March 2018 to August 2018, the Harn Museum of Art held an exhibition that showcased the works of Jamini Roy, one of the most important and influential figures of modern Indian art. These works of art from Roy, 45 pieces in total, highlighted Indian culture, and gives representation to those who identify within this Asian ethnicity. Some of the pieces that were shown in this exhibit were titled Gopini and Saint Francis, which displayed individuals wearing traditional Indian attire.
Intricate and colorful clothing is closely tied to Indian culture. With various colors, textiles, fabrics, and patterns, Indian attire is famously known to be eye-catching. Clothing is crucial to Indian culture as it allows people to express themselves and represent their culture in traditional ways. In these pieces, the individuals depicted in the paintings look as though they are wearing a dhoti, a traditional piece of clothing for men worn for special occasions that are tied around the waist and hang near the legs (Contributor). The creator of these pieces, Jamini Roy, used a traditional style when creating his artwork, perhaps explaining why he decided to paint individuals wearing traditional clothing (“Jamini Roy Biography – Jamini Roy on artnet”). Being that Roy was a man, he was most likely close to the traditional clothing of men.
Through these pieces, much can be told and shown about Indian culture, primarily the traditional clothing and patterns associated with it. The Harn Museum of Art holds several pieces such as the two discussed above that teaches and showcases the culture from various ethnicities and countries, as well as gives representation to those who identify with the cultures and ethnicities presented.
The Middle East is a vastly large region that covers areas such as Lebanon, Syria, Tunisia, Morocco, and so on. It is home to an estimate of 300 million people and holds several cultures such as Turkish, Iranian, and Arab. Through a historical perspective, the Middle East is considered to be the 'cradle of civilization' and the birthplace of the world's major religions such as Christianity, Islam, and Judaism ('Introduction To The Middle East'). However, despite the Middle East is rich in its culture, religion, foods, clothing, landscape, and languages, the proportion of students who identify as Middle Eastern in the University of Florida is a mere 3.5% as of 2019 (Florida, and Population). However, this percentage is an extremely inaccurate representation as most individuals who consider themselves to be Middle Eastern are often considered to fall under the 'White' ethnicity being that there is no specific ethnicity for Middle Eastern individuals. With this being said, not only is there a small student population of Middle Eastern students at the University of Florida, but there are Middle Easterners who are not considered to be Middle Eastern because there is not an ethnicity for it. This gives an inaccurate and unfair description for Middle Easterners, who may feel detached from their culture and background. However, with the Harn Museum of Art in place to showcase exhibits containing Middle Eastern art and artifacts, individuals who identify as Middle Eastern can connect to their culture and be represented.
In June 2017, the Harn Museum of Art held an exhibition dedicated to showcasing cloth, metalworks, and calligraphy inspired by Arabic artists and made in the Middle Eastern region. One of the pieces was created by Yelimane Fall and was titled Jawartu, Line 22. The work was of painting that showed Arabic calligraphy in several, bold colors.
The Arabic language and writing are considered to be a sacred part of Middle Eastern culture. The calligraphy behind each letter is intricate – one of which I consider to be complex and beautiful. Yelimane Fall, who is a master calligrapher, found beauty within Arabic writing and creates paintings based on lyrics from the poem 'Jawartu', which protects and promotes those who read it. Each of the paintings that Fall makes illustrates one of the twenty-nine verses found within the ode.
Though this piece is composed of mostly calligraphy, it represents an extremely crucial and sacred part of Middle Eastern culture. There is much to learn and appreciate in this work of art alone, as well as the other pieces found within this exhibit. Those who identify with Middle Eastern culture can appreciate this piece and exhibit greatly, as well as feel represented through the Harm Museum of Art.
With the exhibitions and art discussed in this essay, it is clear to see that the Harn Museum of Art serves as an effective ambassador for cultural diversity in Gainesville as it holds several pieces that honors and respects various cultures. Minority groups that identify with these different cultures can feel as though they are getting reputation through the artwork that is displayed in the Harn Museum of Art. Even those who do not identify with these cultures and ethnicities can learn much from the artwork displayed in the Harn Museum of Art. Despite Gainesville being a small town with few culturally diverse areas for minorities to connect with, the Harn Museum of Art has and will continue to be an area of representation in Gainesville. That being said, the Harn Museum of Art has a clear connection to the cultural demographics to the cultural diversity found in Gainesville and at the University of Florida.
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