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Fall fun at Tampa Museum of Arts

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by Alexandra D’Eramo

The Tampa Museum of Art offers a variety of different pieces with exhibits ranging from ancient to modern, while also incorporating contemporary art. The museum itself collects, preserves, and studies exemplary and important works of art to educate, engage, and inspire the Tampa residents and others around the world. 

The new exhibitions were just recently put on view on Thursday, Sept. 12 and will be on view through either Nov. 10, 2019, or Jan. 26, 2020, depending on the display. The three exhibitions, Jean-Michel Basquiat: One Master/Two Masterpieces, Purvis Young 9:1, and Sacred Diagrams: Haitian Vodou Flags from the Gessen Collection are all apart of the Ordinary/ Extraordinary: Assemblage in Three Acts series. 

The use of items found in homes or on the streets, such as damaged wood and textiles, are used to tie the exhibitions together. More importantly the Tampa Art Museum wrote that “historical and socio-economic narratives informed by the Afro-Caribbean Diaspora, the Black experience in America, as well as European artistic influences, unite the artists featured in the series.”

One of the new exhibitions, Jean-Michel Basquiat: One Master/Two Masterpieces, explores self-identity and socio-political themes: human experience, black identity, and politics. Basquiat is known for using unconventional materials and ideas around him to create brilliant pieces of art, moreover, using furniture, walls, refrigerators, doors, and clothes. 

Bronte Phillips’, Visitor Engagement and Experience representative at the Tampa Museum of Art, favorite exhibition of the three is Jean-Michel Basquiat: One Master/Two Masterpieces.

“Even though he achieved fame in the 70s/80s, his artwork is extremely relevant to today’s current events in society while facilitating discussion through bold, abstracted, and expressive artistic style,” said Phillips.

Art lovers appreciate Basquiat’s artwork because it highlights proactive portrayals of race and identity, those of which many people can relate to. 

Another one of the exhibitions, Purvis Young: 91, is a shadow representation of artist, Purvis Young’s life when he was living in Miami, Fl. The pieces in this exhibition are an assemblage of images of protesters, pregnant women, and warriors. 

Nancy Kipnis, publicist at the Tampa Museum of Art, said that this is her favorite exhibition. “His figures of boats, trucks, animals, pregnant women, protesters, warriors…all evoke a feeling of humanity,” said Kipnis.

Young is a self-taught artist who grew up in an unpleasant area, which ultimately made him want to become an artist and influenced him to portray more valuable imagery. Although his images represent the struggles that dominated his childhood, they are meant to highlight these issues in a positive sense. 

Young has a similar artistic style to Basquiat, as does the unknown artist of the Sacred Diagrams: Haitian Vodou Flags from the Gessen Collection exhibition. Their paintings and artworks are inspired from the use of raw materials like discarded wood, carpet, cabinets, doors, etc.

The Sacred Diagrams: Haitian Vodou Flags from the Gessen Collection exhibition is quite important and progressive in the art world. These flags represent the most celebrated of Vodou sacred arts. The flags reflect the ethnic, military, or religious devotion through African and European symbols to form ritual art. 

The Tampa Museum of Art wrote that these flags are “Often made of discarded burlap bags, repurposed fabrics, beads, and sequins, Vodou flags represent Haiti’s spiritually rich yet often misunderstood Vodou religion.” 

The museum does a very good job exploiting the beauty of these many well-known exhibitions and artists, while also focusing on student education. 

“At the Tampa Museum of Art, we showcase a wide variety of artists–both old masters and upcoming visionaries, along with local and student artists for exhibitions,” said Phillips. Some students are unaware of the collaboration that The University of Tampa and the Tampa Museum of Art have with one another.

After informing Liam Houlihan, freshman allied health major, that the museum includes pieces of art made by students, he said, “I’ve never been to the museum but I actually think that would be cool to go visit and see what students have done.” 

Offering free learning experiences for students, the Tampa Museum of Art charges no fee for admission if you are a student. Therefore, if you attend UT, The University of South Florida, or Hillsborough Community College, all you need to do is bring your student ID to enjoy all aspects of the museum. 

Alexandra D’Eramo can be reached at alexandra.deramo@spartans.ut.edu

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