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Art Comes Alive: A Visit to the Museum, Essay Example

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On September 2, 2011, I paid a visit to the Marietta-Cobb Museum of Art.  The two-story building had the classic look of a museum; tall white columns, a huge front desk, and ceilings and floors covered in polished marble. There were two exhibits to visit: one dedicated to the power of montages, and the other was full of pieces from the Civil War era.  There were very powerful pieces in these exhibits and throughout the museum, but two in particular had a sense of vibrancy that made me feel as if I was in the painting as a part of the scene.

The first of these paintings were found in the Civil War exhibit.  Titled On The March to the Sea, this painting by Felix Octavius Carr Darley illustrates the destruction brought by the Union armies to the South in the war.  The colors bring the action to life, as fire burns buildings and white and black smoke play against the green of the hills and blue of the water.  The painting is almost crowded with people in motion of all kinds; soldiers fighting and shooting in one direction while others pull up railroad tracks in another.  And in the middle of all the madness, freed slaves slip quietly away in the foreground, looking as though they want to move undetected. This painting gave me a quick flash of what the Civil War meant to those that really experienced it. Unlike reading about it in a book or hearing a lecture on the topic, this paining gave me a sense of the fear and distress that the war put on people through my senses.

The second painting also used bold, vibrant colors, but told a gentler story. Ena, by Michael Leidel, tells the story of a skilled tattoo artist at work. I was drawn to this painting because I had to really look at it to understand what was going on; the color drew me in, but the subject made me want to learn more.  At first, all you see is a woman hard at work on something, her beautiful face concentrated on what she is doing.  Although she is involved, it appears as if she is unaware that she is being watched.   Her expression is one that I have seen on many people before, and it makes me feel as if I am watching her.  In order to understand what is going on in the painting, the viewer has to focus out to see the back of the client that the subject is working on, her gloves, and the ornate tattoo on her arm and put all the pieces together.  The painting is also interesting because it is surprisingly real while looking like a cartoon.  Despite the color, the emotion on the subject’s face is so honest and real that it makes the whole piece look less like a painting and more like a snapshot.

The museum was full of pieces that represented many different aspects of our culture.  There were paintings, sculptures and artifacts that were from or represented not only different time periods, but also different cultures, political movements, and social ideals.  In a world where we constantly are exposed to fast, digital media, taking a day in a museum made for a fun, engaging, and educational break.

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