Harn Diversity Project
Diversity is simply the state of being different or a collection of different things. With humans, diversity is a mixture of religions and races that form a group. Diversity means a great deal to many as it enables one to learn many things about their cultures, more reason why it is advisable to study in a school where diversity is very much considered, as the University of Florida in Gainesville.
Gainesville city is home to many people; however, a high percentage of citizens identified by just two classes follow that vast population. The racial mix indicates a strong bias towards African-Americans and Caucasians, with approximately 90% going into these two categories and most of them in the former category. Maybe this is because Gainesville is not a particular center of tourism, travel or advancement (despite the construction happening around the city), but instead, a town centered on a university. Nevertheless, it is the university that serves to improve the diversity of the population.
Although Gainesville might not be huge, Florida University helps bring a greater variety of different characteristics. People from across the globe are described on campus, with a population that is a bit more balanced. The proportion of Caucasians is smaller, and Latino/Hispanic people represent the second-largest category at the University, with approximately 22%. Two other significant ethnicities present on campus are African-American and Asian students, while Pacific Islander, American Indian, Multi-race, and other unknown races make up the remaining of the population.
One of the University of Florida's most significant assets is its willingness to share the passions of over 50,000 of its pupils. There are more than a thousand recognized student associations and available clubs, of which many concentrates on faith, culture, and heritage (Student Activities and Involvement), apart from the other different educational routes that contribute to various aspects of diversity. Another significant component of the University is its Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art, which puts together works of art from all over the world to exhibit various pieces of culture there in Gainesville. The museum provides the chance to allow art-lovers, curious passers-by, and anyone who comes in between, encounter exciting exhibitions from various eras and distant places. In so doing, everybody can gain knowledge about other cultures and see other people's lives far different from theirs.
Another such exhibition is the African Collection of the Harn Museum, an exhibition of art symbolic of Sub-Saharan African peoples, which is profoundly and uniquely distinct from Gainesville's culture.
History of African art encompasses a broad range of diverse peoples scattered across the world, and many cultures emerge with these people. Africa's ancient history has for long been explored and studied, like one of the earliest pieces of art discovered in South Africa: the engraved ochre, believed to be around 75,000 BCE. When time progressed, and humans started to grow gradually through that period, certain similar features that existed for centuries began to emerge amid the dozens of different cultures.
The Harn Museum's African-Art collection focuses on West Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa from the 5th to the 21st centuries. The aim is to teach students and tourists about cultural diversity and to assist them in embracing other traditions and cultures and copes with them. The 'Ritual Axe' is one of the items in the collection that explains some characteristics mentioned above. This item exists for ritualistic and religious uses from the Yoruba community of East Africa. The Yoruba community was considered to have many gods, and the Ritual Axe especially pays one of them respect as a symbol of honor. The handle carved with wood contains a perfect example of African artwork's significant presence of human figures and also ideal uniformity from one side of the handle towards the other.
The Ritual Axe, like many other items across the art world, poses one question: is the cultural importance of the ax diluted by just being put in an art museum and considered a piece of art? There's the chance that viewers will admire the elegance of the item when touring the museum, but because it is labeled as art, they might not find the cultural importance in full.
Since the exhibition intends to demonstrate the uniqueness and historical significance of African art, the expectation is that those touring the Harn would take a moment to think about the context behind the item, because it would be the best way to achieve that goal. I believe that it is both likely and possible to acknowledge the craftsmanship and understand the collection's antiquity, thus taking full account of the cultural background. That's always up to the art viewers themselves, however. (Harn, Chul-Hyun Ahn, 2007).
Some of these elements, especially symmetry and balance, are seen in the artwork of other cultures, such as in Egyptian and ancient Greek's artwork, and are also found in modern art forms today. Well 4, located in the Harn's Contemporary Collection, brings these unique ideas to an extreme level. Chul-Hyun Ahn, an artist of Korean descent, manipulates uniformity in this work with light, mirror and concrete enclosure, to construct an optical illusion of infinite space, a theme generally correlated with Buddhism. With this, we can find the convergence of the components of art with a range of different cultures to produce a wholly original and controversial piece.
Finally, the many facets of African heritage found in display at the museum enable people from Gainesville's diverse racial and ethnic groups to learn about a society that is very distinct from theirs or the one they evolved from. Seeing as African-Americans are the 2nd most significant group of people living in the city, the collection provides an opportunity to learn about and probably embrace African heritage. But also, in a nation currently experiencing a relatively high level of racial conflict, the white population can take advantage of the information provided by studying, valuing, and acknowledging the different cultures.
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