Non-Western Part II

For my second non-western artwork review, I decided to focus on traditional artwork from the Maori people of New Zealand. New Zealand is on the top of my list of next places to travel, and I enjoyed paging through their many interesting and beautiful pieces of artwork. I had a hard time finding a lot of reading material on the Maori people, and I think that viewing their artwork across the ages helps to give me a better understanding of who they are as a people group.

The piece that I choose to focus on is a house post figure. You can view a photograph of this piece at

House post figures are carvings on the Amo, or support structures on the meeting house. The meeting houses in the Maori community continue to serve as a very important focal points. They hold many purposes including council chambers, guest houses, community centers, and simple common gathering spaces for important events and places to discuss issues within the community.  Yet another purpose of the meeting houses is to preserve the communities history and genealogy in order to educate future generations. The house post figures play an important part of the later role.  The form of the meeting house itself represents the body of a primordial ancestor.

The piece you can see if you follow the link provided above is carved from wood, and stands at 43 inches in height. The exact date of creation is unknown, but estimated to be around 1800 A.D. The artist for this piece is unknown.  This figure was once a panel at a Maori meeting house in the Te Arawa region, and it may portray an ancient warrior. The figure seems engaged in a war dance of sorts, and his tongue is stuck out in defiance and aggression. This depiction of the human warrior is common in the Maori artwork. Other similar figures can be found at

My personal reaction to this figure is on of interest and amusement. While I don’t know if I would call this piece beautiful (indeed, I am not sure that was the artists intent to begin with), I think it holds a great display of talent and emotion. It also expresses some of the vast culture differences around the world. For example, I would be surprised if the US troops us their tongues as a common display of defiance.

Works Cited:


Non-Western Part I

Photograph of the artwork discussed can be found at

This painting by Sadequain Naqqash is a beautiful representation of traditional Islamic artwork. I have not studied much Islamic artwork before, and I was surprised how much I liked it. I had a lot of trouble deciding which piece to review, as so many of them are so beautiful and unique. This particular piece was a gift to the Government of Pakistan in 1980, shortly before Sadequain Naqqash’s death.

While the only title of sorts that I could find for the piece was Calligraphy panel, the calligraphy arranged on the side of the boats reads as follows:

“In the name of the memorable Qur’an. In the name of the glorious Qur’an. In the name of the pen [and anything it writes].”

A series of boats often symbolizes safety and security in the Qur’an.

My personal reaction to this painting is a feeling of peace. I find this rather puzzling, because boats are not generally a peaceful experience for me. Perhaps my reaction is due simply to the calm appearance of the water. I also love the way the calligraphy is worked into the shape of the boats, giving it a fun and unique appearance.

Sadequain Naqqash was an artist from Pakistan in the 20th century. He was born in 1930, and was trained in calligraphy from a young age.  He started his career in oil paintings and murals however, and only came back to focus on calligraphy I the decade or so before his death. He began received state patronage in the 1950s, and to this day he is considered one of the best artist to ever come out of Pakistan. Sadequain died in 1987 with many awards and honors. In 2006 Pakistan Post produced a commemorative stamp in his honor.


Works Cited:

Domestic Violence in Modern Art

 Cycle of Violence, 2004, Kate Sartor Hilburn

I have often heard of the Cycle of Violence growing up, but I have never seen it represented in such an artistic manner. This cycle that so many women have endured makes me want to beg and plead with them not to be mislead during the times of peace. This piece makes me sad, but I am also glad that there is so much support and understanding of how abusive relationships often work.

 Carried in the Arms of Angles, 2008, Kate Sartor Hilburn

This piece represents the feeling some victims have while enduring domestic violence, the feeling of being comforted by angels from heaven. For me, this piece evokes more joy for the comfort of these women than sadness at their situation. While the circumstances are still tragic, there is something calming about the thought of angles watching over them.

Trapped, 2010, Sherrie Thai

This piece is an artistic expression of the trapped feeling many women in domestic violence situations experience. My response to this piece is a simple, strong, and continuous desire to help. I want to reach through the picture and grasp the woman’s hand to pull her to safety.

 Star Mandala, Data Unkown, Jennifer

Art therapy is a commonly used healing process for victims of domestic violence. While the artists often prefer to remain anonymous, many of these pieces are so beautiful and so sad they bring me to tears. My reaction to Star Mandala is one of understanding. While I have thankfully never endured a domestic violence situation, I think seeing this piece helps me better connect to the victim than just hearing his or her story alone. The following are some additional examples of pieces created by victims of domestic violence as part of art therapy (Artist, title, and date are unknown).


Amazing Amazon, 2009, Alex Ross

This piece is an expression of the popular comic book character, Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman is being used to express the beauty, strength, and magnificence that women posses, and artwork depicting this expression is being displayed to combat domestic violence. My personal reaction to this piece is one of awe. The woman in this piece is so beautiful, she inspires me to accomplish more, and to be more confident in myself.

Artist and Title Unkown, Public Art Display in Valparaiso, Chile, 2009

This piece evoked the most emotional response from me. This piece is different because the women represented can no longer be helped. Each dress represents a woman who passed away due to domestic violence, and the weapon that took her life is embroidered on the dress with small white beads. I think this piece is incredibly powerful. It gives me a desire to keep these tragedies from taking more innocent lives.

Note: Due to the nature of my theme; domestic violence, I was unable to get information on the artists. Most of the pieces in this exhibit were created as part of art therapy, and/or are anonymous for security reasons. Even the artists that shared there names are either not popular, or would prefer that their artwork be the focus, instead of themselves. Due to this difficulty, I was unable to respond to the question regarding a biography on the artist.

Works Cited:

Early Modern Artwork ~ Photography During the Great Depression

Migrant Mother, Dorothea Lange, 1936, California

This photograph was taken in 1936 by Dorothea Lange, in Nipomo, California. Dorothea Lange was a photographer, and artist, employed at the time of this photo by the Federal Resettlement Administration. The subject of this photograph, and many others taken by Lange, is the Great Depression, and how it effected the people of America.

The second I saw this photograph I was drawn to it. The dirt, worry, and pain are so strong in the face of this woman; I wish I could reach back through time and help her. I feel that although I have by no means endured the hardship that was experienced by the people who lived through the Great Depression, this photograph helps me to connect to that time, and it causes me to think about the hardships that I have endured, and how I was able to live through them.

One advantage we have in studying more recent artwork is that we have the opportunity to here what the artist remembers about the experience of creating it. Dorothea Lange recounts her memory of the even to Popular Photography in 1960:

“I saw and approached the hungry and desperate mother, as if drawn by a magnet…She told me her age, that she was thirty-two. She said that they had been living on frozen vegetables from the surrounding fields, and birds that the children killed. She had just sold the tires from her car to buy food. There she sat in that lean- to tent with her children huddled around her, and seemed to know that my pictures might help her, and so she helped me. There was a sort of equality about it.”

During my research on Migrant Mother, I discovered that there is a great deal of controversy over whether Lange should ever have published the photo, and if the statements she gave about the mother were truthful. Even if the woman that Lange recalled is in actuality, a combination of many women and experiences she encountered during her study of the migrant workers, the sentiment still lies in the photo, and the mothers eyes still speak to me from within the picture, telling me of the sorrowful time she endured, and leaving me with a truly renewed sense of gratitude for the many things I have been blessed with during my short life.

Works Cited:


Impressionism. I cannot sum up my reaction to this artistic style with either the word love or hate. Impressionist paintings are so varied and unique, there are some paintings that I love such as the pointillism postimpressionist painting The Beach at Heist by Gorges Lemmen, and there are others that I do not find at all appealing such as Dancers at The Bar, by Edgar Degas.

This leads me to ask the question, what is it about the Impressionist paintings I love that separate them from the paintings I find less than desirable. I think to answer this question, it will help to examine the characteristics and goals of the style as a whole.

Impressionist paintings focus on subject matter that differs greatly from the previously popular paintings of there time. Prior to impressionism, painters generally used their works to reflect popular religious stories, create portraits of important or rich people of the time, or for journalistic purposes. Impressionist paintings by contrast, focus of subjects that reflect the fleeting moments of life. Examples are paintings of weather, favored pastimes, emotions and movement, and the marvelous effects of light. In general, I prefer these new subjects to the old ones. Portraits such as the painting Pope Innocent X  by Diego Velazquez of the baroque era, do not have the emotional impact for me that I get from looking at a painting of the weather such as Yellow Tree by Émile Henri Bernard.

Inside of the Impressionist style, I choose which paintings I love the same way. Paintings that create an emotional reaction in me do a much better job of gaining my interest and generating an appealing response. I believe that after subject matter, the most important characteristic that affects my choice for favored paintings is the color, and they way the color is applied to the canvas. As I previously mentioned, I love the painting The Beach at Heist by Gorges Lemmen. This painting is so colorful and it creates such a feeling of life and peace in me. I love the way the pointillism style gets the viewers attention and draws me in. In contrast, although Dancers at The Bar, by Edgar Degas is not a stressful, upsetting, or boring subject matter, the colors are plain, and less inviting. The brushstroke style is not very interesting, and it does not draw any additional interest from me as the viewer. I don’t feel distain per sea for this painting, but it doesn’t give me any reason to give it a closer look.

In conclusion, my response to Impressionism is similar to my response to most styles of painting; some are good, some are bad, and the good ones in my opinion are the paintings that draw emotional response from me to do there color, subject, and style.

Works Cited:Émile_Bernard

Pope Innocent X, Diego Velazque, 1650, Italy

The Beach at Heist, Gorges Lemmen, 1891, Paris, France

Dancers at the Bar, Edgar Degas, 1888, where painted unknown

Yellow Tree, Émile Henri, 1888, where painted unknown

Goethe ~ Götz von Berlichingen


I choose this play partly because the works of Goethe immediately caught my eye as I started on this section of the course. I had the opportunity to study some of his writings during my time in Europe during the summer of 2010. From my personal experience, the citizens of Germany still hold his works in high regard, and children know of his writings from a young age. I actually saw a little girl of about four years clutching a book of Goethe’s works for children.


Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is an incredibly famous German writer from the Classical era. His first dramatic success is titled Götz von Berlichingen, and was written in 1773, in Germany. “Götz von Berlichingen” is now an expression in Germany that translates to the popular English saying “Kiss My Ass!” The play tells the story of a medieval robber baron, and it was very popular with the middle-class.


Wolfgang Beutin, author of A History of German Literature: From the Beginnings to the Present Day, credits Götz von Berlichingen and other similar type drama’s as being what “successfully pointed the way for eighteenth century middle class- drama” He goes on to state “Two decades saw the emergence of the German theatre from provincial narrowness. It could now stand comparison with the theatre in France and England.” The question then becomes, why did this work, and other similar plays of the era, have such a popular appeal with the middle class? Middle class saw a dramatic rise in the classical era and therefore, rather than plays only being a method of entertainment for the rich and royal, middle class people started attending in droves. This increase in middle class audience demanded a change in some of the popular content the plays contained. For example, plays that focused more on the lives of the middle class were easier for them to relate to, and thus became more popular in this era. This can be seen in Goethe’s Götz von Berlichingen in the way the main character is an enemy to both the prince and the priests, but a friend to the opposed.


I enjoyed Götz von Berlichingen, and many of the other works of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.



Works Cited


Wolfgang Beuton, et al. (1994). A History of German Literature: From the Beginnings to the Present Day. Routledge. p. 149. ISBN 978-0-415-06034-9.



Bernini’s Bust of Medusa

Gian Lorenzo Bernini, The Medusa, 1640s. Carrara marble. Musei Capitolini, Rome

The Medusa, a dramatic sculpture created in the 1640s by a well known architect and artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini, portrays a character from ancient Greek mythology during her transformation from woman to monster.[1] According to the myth, the beautiful Gorgon sister Medusa grew snakes for hair as punishment from Minerva for her scandals affair with Neptune, god of the sea. She is afterword doomed to be the death of anyone who looks upon her face. [2]

This sculpture is a good example of the passion and emotional depth that is apparent in much of the artwork of the Baroque era. The sculpted face of Medusa is full of frightened anguish and pain. The intense detail of the open mouth, and furrowed eyebrows give depth the the expression, and allow a more intense emotional connection of the character and the person viewing the artwork. [3]


The Council of Trent was an anti-reformation movement that called for more passion and realism within the artwork of the catholic church. It also allowed for a greater amount of artwork to be commissioned by the papal court, creating a greater amount of artwork in general. This spike later lead to a rise in the patronage by the merchant class, due to an increased level of interest in art, and an increased variety and availability of artists.

Gian Lorenzo Bernini, was very well known during the Baroque era, and he benefited greatly from these influences.  He was commissioned for several works of art from St. Peter’s under Pope Urban VIII, and he completed many other works of art for catholic and merchant patrons. A of famous example of the influence of the Council of Trent on Brenini’s work lies in his sculpture David, which gives incredible life and emotion to the Biblical character from the story of David and Goliath. Another well known work sculpted by Bernini is The Rape of Proserpina; a sculpture that was patronized by an Italian Cardinal  Scipione Borghese. [4]

While the direct patronage of The Medusa is unknown, it is thought that Bernini created this work while he was not in favor of the papal court. There is support that the sculpture was meant to represent Bernini’s lover, who cheated on him with his brother Luigi. Regardless of the direct patronage of the sculpture, the influence that both the Council of Trent and the rise of the support from the merchant class clearly had an impact on Bernini as an artist. Therefore, it follows that this sculpture was impacted by this historical context both by the development of Bernini’s skill as a sculptor, and by the general desire for passion and depth in art during the Baroque era.[5]

I personally found this sculpture appealing due to it’s stark contrast from the depictions of Medusa that are generally portrayed. While most works of art focus on Medusa during her time as a monster or her end as the triumph of Perseus, Bernini chose to sculpt her during her transformation from woman to monster. This depiction creates a more emotional reaction in the viewer (including me), and makes the artwork more interesting.

Works Cited: