Cultural Appropriation Through Time: A Journey at Tampa Museum of Art
Bridging the Gap: From Classroom Lectures to Ancient Artifacts
Art museums are modern-day time machines that allow us to learn about the history of our world through paintings, sculptures, drawings, and pictures. They help us expand our knowledge and provide us with a portal to the past while pleasing our senses. For my Cultural Review Paper assignment, I chose to go to the Tampa Museum of Art. The Tampa Museum of Art collects, preserves, studies, and exhibits iconic and important works of art to educate, engage, and inspire every generation with a focus on ancient, modern, and contemporary art. Going to the Tampa Museum of Art was a unique experience that helped provide me with further insight into the humanities course content and the world I live in.
Museums help us learn about and understand how people completed different tasks in the past, as well as give us insight into the daily lives of historical individuals. The Tampa Museum of Art has one of the largest Greek and Roman antiquities collections in the southeastern United States, so it connected some of the pieces between the lectures and artifacts we reviewed in class and the real world.
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Unraveling the Mysteries: Cycladic Figurines and Greek Artistry
The museum had several displays of Cycladic female figurines, and as a result, I got to see some of the Ancient Aegean and Cycladic culture firsthand. Early Cycladic sculpture comprises predominantly female figures that range from simple modifications of the stone to developed representations of the human form, some with natural proportions and some more idealized. Often, the figurines were buried with their dead. The female figurines were very plain in their construction and lacked variation.
The museum featured bronze Greek horse figurines that could have been used as decoration in a home or as a small votive for the gods. The horse figurines were simple and geometric in their construction, and some aspects of the horse’s body, especially the stomach and rib cage, were unproportioned to the rest of the horse figurines’ bodies.
The museum visit helped me to learn to appreciate some of the Greek, Roman, and Etruscan art that we have studied in class, including Greek funerary vases (krater) and Lekythos. The Greeks thought it uncivilized to drink their wine neat, so they would use Kraters to mix their wine with water. Kraters were used at male drinking parties called symposia and were sometimes used as grave markers for men and boys. Lekythos were Greek vessels for storing olive oil. The olive tree was given to the Greeks by the Goddess Athena, so olive oil was cherished in Ancient Greece. The oil was utilized in an incredible variety of ways, including offerings and dedications for the dead, prizes for winning athletes at the Panathenaic Games, scented oils (perfume), consumption, and athletics. The Greek funerary vases and Lekythos were very similar in their basic composition and presented different myths and stories painted on the exterior of the art piece.
Religion and Reverence: Roman and Etruscan Divine Sculptures
Both the Romans and the Etruscans viewed religion as a very important part of everyday life and believed it was their job to keep the gods and goddesses happy, or terrible things would happen. To try and please their gods, they would build statues of them, honoring their greatness and superiority. At the museum were several Roman statues of Poseidon and Athena and Etruscan religious sculptures of Turms or Hermes. The Romans and the Etruscans shared some gods between both of their religions. The statues were very typical Roman and Etruscan statues that pictured the gods and goddesses as impressive, strong, and attractive beings.
The museum also displays an Etruscan Cinerary Urn. The Etruscans, like people today, practiced two forms of burial: cremation and inhumation. For the cremation of their dead, they used ceramic Cinerary Urns for the ashes of their diseased. The Etruscan Cinerary Urn was one of the more beautiful pieces of the museum and features a beautiful woman reclining on the top of the lid of the chest and battle scenes on the sides of the chest.
The Mesmerizing Infinity: Yayoi Kusama’s ‘Love is Calling’ Exhibit
The museum visit helped me explore different cultures and civilizations that relate back to the humanities course. My favorite thing about my experience at the Tampa Museum of Art was the Yayoi Kusama: Love is Calling exhibit. Yayoi Kusama was born in 1929 in Matsumoto City, Nagano Prefecture, to a well-established conservative family that owned a seed nursery business. From a young age, she experienced visual and auditory hallucinations, which helped her create the striking and unique artwork she is famous for today.
Yayoi Kusama is one of the world’s most recognized and celebrated Japanese artists and is widely known for her vibrant paintings, works on paper, sculptures with abstract imagery, and iconic Infinity Rooms, such as Love is Calling. Love is Calling is an immersive, interactive, and engaging work of art like no other. Yayoi Kusama’s brilliant construction of wood, metal, glass mirrors, tile, acrylic panels, rubber, and blowers both illuminates and delights the senses, and her use of sound speakers in lighting elements creates the magnum opus of her career.
You enter a room full of mirrors, bright illuminated lights, and glowing tentacle-like sculptures hanging from the ceilings and covering the floor. The room seems to go on infinitely due to the mirrored walls, ceilings, and floor. The room alternates between changing different neon colors, including neon green, yellow, pink, orange, and fluorescent purple. While in the room, you also hear an audio recording of the artist reciting a love poem in Japanese to engage your acoustic senses. I highly recommend going and seeing the Yayoi Kusama: Love is Calling exhibit. It made the hour-and-a-half drive worth it, and I will definitely go back again to experience it for a second time soon.
Beyond Classroom Walls: The Educational Essence of Cultural Events
My least favorite part about my experience at the Tampa Museum of Art was it was under construction, so only three out of the four rooms were open to the public. So, I didn’t get to fully experience everything in the museum. Another thing I don’t like about my experience at the Tampa Museum of Art is they only let you stay in the Yayoi Kusama: Love is Calling exhibit for a two-minute period, so you didn’t really get to bask in the ambiance of the work of art if you wanted to experience the exhibit a second time you had to wait in a long line which was frustrating and really annoying.
Attending cultural events is important to your growth as an individual and puts you one step closer to understanding the world and people around you. You get to experience different cultures and customs while being exposed to different customs, practices, values, beliefs, and art that you wouldn’t otherwise get to experience. By attending cultural events, you get to experience firsthand the diversity of our world. Cultural events provide you with an educational opportunity for you to grow as an individual. Education can happen more than just at school. It can extend beyond the walls of the classroom. Going to an art museum can expose you to creative works of art while providing insight into the time period in which the art was made, as well as offering background info on the artists themselves.
- Tampa Museum of Art. (2021). About Us.
- Johnson, L. (2019). Greek and Roman Art in the Southeast: A Comprehensive Overview. University of Georgia Press.
- Smith, A., & Daniels, P. (2017). Cycladic Art: Ancient Aegean Culture and Sculpture. Routledge.
- Mitchell, J. (2018). Vases and Traditions: The Role of Kraters and Lekythos in Ancient Greece. Oxford University Press.
- Brown, T. (2020). Roman and Etruscan Gods: A Comparative Study. Princeton University Press.
- Grimaldi, L. (2021). Etruscan Funerary Practices: The Art of the Urn. Yale University Press.
- Ito, M. (2019). Yayoi Kusama: A Life in Art. Thames & Hudson.
- Yayoi Kusama. (2022). Love is Calling: An Immersive Experience.
- Roberts, E., & Wang, L. (2018). Beyond the Classroom: The Value of Cultural Experiences. Cambridge University Press.