My take on Art History

Emperor Qin and His Army

Okay, so I was going to blog about the 6,000 lifesize terracotta statues that were found above where Emporer Qin was buried, but I think this website does a far better job than I would.

http://www.globalmountainsummit.org/terra-cotta-warriors.html

Instead of giving you exact information here, I am just going to talk about how this makes me feel. At first I was amazed; left in awe by how many sculptures were found. When digging a little deeper I discovered information about Qin Shi Huangdi himself, and I took a very deep look at it.

In culture, the emperor unified the Chinese characters in writing, which promoted the development of the Chinese culture. However, he also suppressed scholars who were not to his liking. Consequently, many scholars involved were killed in Xianyang.  

Qin Terracotta Army
Qin Terracotta Army

The symbol of the Chinese ancient civilization, the Great Wall bears witness to Qin Shi Huang’s centralism. He ordered conscript laborers to link together the defensive works against marauding nomads already built by the former states. That was the forerunner of the modern Great Wall. Another world-famous achievement is the Terracotta Warriors and Horses in Xian, which was discovered nearby the mausoleum of Emperor Qin Shi Huang. Both are the wonders of China. But during their construction, countless conscripts lost their lives. It’s really wasting manpower and resources.

http://www.travelchinaguide.com/attraction/shaanxi/xian/terra_cotta_army/qin_shihuang_1.htm

I was disturbed by the fact that ONE man made the decision to kill many people simply because they did not think the same way that he did, or learn the same way, or for whatever reason he simply did not like them. This really effected me, because I am not your “typical” scholar. I grew up homeschooled, and learned in many different ways from my peers (also in similar ways as well, to keep in mind). What would happen if our political leaders decided that a certain way of learning was inappropriate enough to kill a group of people? Whether it is homeschooling, private schooling, public schooling, it would be horrifying! People deserve the right to choose what form of education works best for them!

Also, the people who died while creating the Great Wall of China and his own place of burial. How selfish would a person have to be to cause the death of many so that he could be buried how he chose?

I guess by the end I am still amazed, but with a different taste than I had when I began. I’m torn, because Qin reformed and reshaped China, and he is responsible for the building of one of the most beautiful “walls” in the history of the world, but was he really that great of a person? Will the art that I create tell a story to people in the future that I would be ashamed of?

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The Ties That Bind

Ohhhhh my lands, the ties that bind. That is a wonderful cliché, because it speaks about people sharing things in common. It is not to say that someone or something is bound to another thing against their will, but rather by common beliefs, knowledge, surroundings, and interests. I did a little “research” (ha ha, because I am such a nerd) on the phrase “the ties that bind”, and apparently one of it’s first known uses appears on page 57 of the Basic Text of the Fellowship of Narcotics Anonymous. Go figure, huh? :P I am not an addict, but the quote that the phrase comes from strikes me deeply. “As long as the ties that bind us together are stronger than those that would tear us apart, all will be well.” Did you get all of that? “As long as the ties that bind us together are stronger than those that would tear us apart, all will be well.” And truly, all will be well. I have made what I hope are some lasting friendships in this History of Art class, which not only has broadened my perspective of art and educated me about different historical pieces, but it has taught me a thing or two about community. Our class was kind of like a little community, helping each other out and bringing in snacks to share. I felt completely at ease in class, and never once did I feel like I had to pretend to be someone that I wasn’t. I learned so much, and I feel like the other students allowed me to see through their eyes, even for just a little bit of time.

I was not at all looking forward to the end of class- in fact, I was dreading it. I was certain that I would cry, possibly go insane, and in the back of my mind I considered handcuffing myself to the chair I usually sit in. When I really analyzed the situation though, I realized that all of those would be ridiculous (except for maybe the crying, I am a crybaby). As much as I have loved the classroom experiences, the learning and sharing and growing that I experienced in the classroom does not have to stop. I can continue to update my blog, I can keep in touch with the other students in class, I can take time to research the different things that really excite me about Art History. In my house growing up my mother always said, “The learning never stops. You learn something new everyday, and hopefully you live past high school and college.” We have always embraced learning, and it is very rare that I see education as an unpleasant obstacle or negative part of life.

I believe that artists throughout history share that belief, and they create pieces knowing that what they have to teach will be soaked up one day through the eyes of an eager student.

Thank you to everyone in this class for making it all so incredibly worthwhile!

Etruscan vs. Disney

Cerveteri Sarcophagus 520 BCE, shows that the Etruscan women were much more privileged than the women of other cultures in those days. The lid (and possibly the rest of it, although I am not sure) is terra cotta.

 
Okay, I could be WAY off here but my first thoughts when I was looking at Etruscan artwork were “Hey! This reminds me of animation, like, in Disney animated movies…” and “Hercules rings a bell here!” So I decided I would look into it and make my comparisons.
 
I think what gets me the most is the SMILE.
 
 
Disney may or may not have based some of their artwork on Etruscan art, but if they had, what would some good reasons be? Why would Disney decide to use Etruscan art as their model. For one thing, Etruscan art was very happy and full of life and nature, something that Disney likes. Also, the Etruscan people were a happy group of people that treated each other remarkably equally for those days. Women were able to attend banquets with their husbands as well as sporting events, they could own their own property, they were literate, and the mother’s name was listed alongside the father’s name when commemorating somebody. Disney tends to lean toward the side of being accepting of each other, so this side of Etruscan culture could have played a part in why they might choose to use it as a reference.
 
Call me crazy, but I have had fun thinking about this! Disney has been inspired by so many art styles and cultures it is very possible that along the way they stumbled upon the Etruscans. :)

Recognition

Some of us are lucky if we can recognize the art we see in the world, especially in history. It seems as though everything is new, or everything is all old, but nothing is “familiar”. I wonder if this is because we do not know the artists creating the work. Or do we know the artists? If we went back into history, back to the Paleolithic times, would we see a young man or woman and know instantly who they are and what they were going through from their art? If we visited the Etruscans would we recognize the smiles and the faces behind the bubbly artwork? If you were to go to a museum, choose a painting, and then be delivered into a room of people where ONE of them was the artist, would you recognize them?

Are people hiding in plain sight? Maybe take a little time to think about this, reflect on it with pieces that you know, and come up with an answer for yourself.

Influence

I’m gonna come clean here. I’ve always loved art, and I have always considered myself a “thinker”, but I feel definite growth from my History of Art class. I never knew how important the ancient headless sculptures were, or that the slabs of stone with wierd images on them were law codes or signs of power. I find myself thinking more about all the little things that I am observing around me. Could it be possible that in 30,000 years people will be looking at our McDonald’s drive-thru signs with all of the food styles on them in a museum and saying “LOOK MOM! These people had food prepared for them, and this sandwich was only a dollar! How come we can’t get a sandwich that cheap?”. Could they discover our fashion magazines and say “What did they use for painting their face like that? Why are they wearing those clothes? What feelings are the trying to convey?” Could they find our coins with the presidents on them and mistake them for “false idols” or “gods”?

I suppose that I will never know what is going to happen in 30,000 years, because I cannot see or control the future. Something I often think about now though is “Can I influence the future?” Perhaps we can influence the future by how we live, what we create, and so many other things.

Cincinnati Art Museum

Recently our class took a field trip to the Cincinnati Art Museum and it was amazing. I learned about all sorts of new works of art in history, but it was so amazing to be able to see all of it. I have a brand new appreciation for art like I’ve never had before, and I have always appreciated art. I want to live in the Cincinnati Art Museum. I snapped a few photographs for personal use while at the museum, but I am afraid to post some of them on here just yet without doing a little more research. I do not want to infringe on anyone’s art. :D

If you click the image it will direct you to Cincinnati Art Museum's website, where I got these images.

I can remember walking up to the building and feeling my jaw drop. The immensity of the building was overwhelming, and it was beautiful. I would have been quite happy at that point just staring at the outside. By some chance of fate I was lead through the main doors and then I felt my heart drop. I was home. I felt the spirit and very breath of art rush into my lungs like salt water in the ocean, and it was bittersweet because I knew I would not have enough time to take it all in. This didn’t effect how exhilerated by it all I was though even for a second. I hopped around from one display to another, eyes darting and fingers tingling with excitement. I often found myself looping around to the same works of art because the first time simply wasn’t enough. My mouth hung loosely open for quite some time, with minimal speech and the occasional gasp of amazement. I felt my heart race as I approached art from Ancient Egypt and Greece, seeing art similar to what we had been studying in class all this time right in front of me, seperated by only a window of glass. I could have died happy, but I hadn’t seen anything yet.

Lyn led me further into the labyrinth and we discovered “Heavy Metal”, a special exhibit that showcased suits of armor and weaponry from the days of knights! We charged through that powerful display of artwork and waltzed into a beautiful era of paintings, all the while Lyn was telling me how much I was going to love everything. I felt bad though, because I could hardly focus on anything at that point. I was lost in this beautiful world that I didn’t even know existed. I happily snapped photographs of some of the most eye-catching pieces that I didn’t think I would get in trouble for taking pictures of, and that were small enough to fit in the frame. We saw furniture, more paintings, and several beautiful vases and other forms of vessels. Some of the art was modern, some was simply old, and other art was older than I could fathom. I was mesmerized. We took a journey through African art, and I felt like I was in a whole new world. I can remember being excited about little toothpick like sticks of stone that had hands or feet or heads on one end of them. It is likely that the first words that left my mouth since arrival were something like “Lyn, look at the tiny little hands over here!! They are so cute! How did they make those!? What did they use them for?”

If you click the image it will direct you to Cincinnati Art Museum's website, where I got these images.

After that I proclaimed my excitement about almost everything I saw, pointing things out and being pulled to every new piece of art. At some point in the journey I simply got seperated from Lyn, losing myself even deeper into this dream of a place. I found colored pencils and paper and I colored like a child in this magnificent sanctuary of art. I felt so free, so alive, and every moment was magnified by every step I took closer to another piece of art. Lyn wrote my name on the paper I colored on after she found me, and hung it on the wall like it was perfectly okay that we could hang our own art with other amazingly beautiful works. It was an area that said we could, and other people had done it, but the idea boggled me into a near state of oblivion. Lyn merely laughed at me, and we journeyed into the “Wedded Perfection” display where I lost Lyn for a second time. I immediately found exquisite black and white wedding photography and almost tripped over my own feet to get closer. The dresses hanging on mannequins were beautiful I am sure, and there were a handful I selected that I liked, but I was so drawn to the photography. I kept thinking to myself how amazing the photographs were, but also that I could have taken them. I was shocked at this revelation, and began plotting ways to get my photography into this museum.

Somewhere along the way I found Candee and Paulette and Teresa and we wound up taking a break for coffee and dessert. In hindsight I realize that I must have been out of my right mind to stop circling through the labyrinth of art for coffee, but I enjoyed it all the same. I had Créme Brulee and it was divine, as everything in a museum of art should be. Paulette showed Candee, Teresa, and me some wonderful art cards that she had made, and I loved them! They were beautiful, and a very intriguing idea. You trade them like Yu-Gi-Oh cards with other artists.

If you click the image it will direct you to Cincinnati Art Museum's website, where I got these images.

In all of the craziness that I think stopping for coffee may or may not have been, I am very glad I did. Candee insisted that I see the Asian art and the Damascus Room since she knows about my passion for Asian art and culture. I was fumbling along in front of and behind her, until I discovered myself in a room full of some of the most beautiful art I have ever seen in person. I loved every moment in that area, and I felt like I was exactly where I needed to be. I spent my longest chunk of time in the Asian section, just soaking it all in like a sponge that never runs out of room. I may or may not have danced like a fool a few times. I felt like I could not get any happier, and Candee lead me to a small room called the Damascus room. I was ready to throw my sleeping bag right in the middle of the floor and take up home. I was moving in. I was telling my mother I’d miss her in my mind, I was thanking Jesus for supplying me with a roof over my head, and I was figuring the commute to my job from there. Unfortunately, that plan did not end up working out and I had to leave.

I have every intention of going back someday. Many, many times on many, many days.

And then we visited Krohn’s Conservatory which I was decidedly less excited about since anyone who knows me knows that I am not exactly a plant enthusiast. I’ve attempted to garden a few times, and failed every time. Botany was probably my worst subject outside of Math and Health. I cannot tell you the difference between a flower and a weed, and I definitely struggle flower to flower. I tend to find myself allergic to plants. I do however think that they are beautiful, and wonderful subjects for photography. I was impressed by the little conservatory, and I was perfectly at ease snapping away. I got really excited looking at the pictures I walked away with, and I am so excited to share them with you now!

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