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The exhibits that I chose to visit were the African Art and Origins exhibit by George Nelson Preston and the Human Rights Institute exhibit. After taking the time to explore both, I found that the human rights exhibition was the most striking as the displays were very abstract, symbolic, and had deeper meanings to represent the difficult and sometimes horrific aspect of the fight for human rights. However, the African exhibit felt more relatable to me as it had a greater variety of objects, ranging from paintings and sculptures to masks and other cultural aspects. As an individual who enjoys learning about the intricacies of other countries and cultures, the anthropological nature of this exhibit spoke to me the most.
I have not visited a gallery on campus before, but I have had a chance to visit a large facility such as the New York National Gallery of Art. I have not approached the galleries on campus as I am neither a fan of traditional art nor am I knowledgeable enough to enjoy the experience. However, while I was in New York, I chose to visit the National Gallery because of its iconic status and because it holds some of the most famous paintings in the world created by legendary artists throughout history. Despite lacking understanding, I was mesmerized by the experience of such a large gallery.
Examining the items in the exhibit from an art or leisure perspective is challenging, and largely depends on the purpose, format, and type of objects included. For example, the human rights exhibit includes a lot of sculptures that serve as a commentary and a social message, and I would consider it to be art. Meanwhile, the African exhibit includes a lot of day-to-day or cultural objects used by African tribes historically. It is not necessarily art but can be considered a leisure or learning experience as a viewer takes on the cultural learning experience.
In the African Origins exhibit, the most appealing thing to me was statuettes. Those figurines were very realistic and beautiful despite being very old and made by hand. It was impressive to see how they represented various aspects of cultural and daily life for these tribes. For the human rights exhibit, I was most struck by numerous sculptures and how Lighton used symbolism to portray the deep nature of the constitutional debate regarding the right to bear arms.
I was inspired by the human rights exhibit, as I have been avoiding the political debate regarding the 2nd Amendment. The exhibition and its heartfelt nature pushed me to research the issue deeper and form an educated opinion. I believe that bearing arms should be a privilege that is contingent on standards and respect for the life of others. If there is a pattern of a violation of this privilege, it is a violation of human rights, and social change should occur (Smith).
After visiting these exhibits, I believe I will attempt to promote tolerance in society, through my personal actions as well as joining a student organization focusing on this issue. Both the exhibit on African origins and human rights highlight that the issues of hatred, racism and the overall lack of tolerance are still very much present in the modern world. These aspects must be changed on an underlying level by helping people understand and modify their behaviors to support other cultures and respect everyone’s rights.
My overall experience was positive, as I learned that even small-scale exhibitions can be an overwhelmingly positive and educational experience. The galleries had pieces of art and other objects that I have never seen before, and it was impactful to learn about their origins and the ideas behind them.
Smith, SE. “Gun Ownership Is Not a Human Right.” The Guardian. 2016. Web.