The Art of How to Look

Today, I went to the Hood Museum of Art on campus. I’ve never been too into art or museums, but I absolutely loved the Hood Museum. The Museum is a beautiful, modern building with a grand staircase, and we spent some time on the second floor looking at a number of contemporary African art pieces. The first work of art we looked at as a class was a photograph of a white colonial man and a royal African lady; the drab colors used in the painting and oddly placed greek columns were uncomforting at times, but the complexity and inquisitive nature of the painting were undeniably thought-provoking. The other piece that I looked at in detail was that of an African lady’s silloutte covered with circuitboard patterns, holding the Earth in her hands; I interpreted its message to be that artificial intelligence would replace mankind and control the earth.

While I had previously only looked at art casually, having the curator of the museum walk us through how to look at pieces of art gave me a new perspective. Before today, I typically wouldn’t look very closely and just take a glance at pieces that were visually appealing. However, it turns out that if you look at art intentionally, you will better see the story behind the piece as well as the message that the artist is conveying. Also, I found that reading the summary next to a given art piece yielded a lot of insight into the piece that can often guide you in the right direction to see what the author meant to convey with the piece.

Going to the Hood reminded me of the Van Gogh museum I went to in Amsterdam while I was abroad. At the time I didn’t really know how to look at art properly and we didn’t have long time at the museum because we only arrived an hour before closing time, but in retrospect I think I could have enjoyed the museum more if I had examined each piece of art more methodologically.

Moving forward, being more methodological and open-minded when looking at art will help me appreciate and enjoy it more.