Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Final and the Museum Paper

Sorry I haven't blogged for a while.  I've been busy with school work, specifically with studying for the final.  The final was today, and I think (hope) I did all right on it.  It was in the same manner as all of the other tests which I got 100% on.  I also got back my museum paper which I got an A+ on.  Does it seem like I'm bragging?  Well... maybe.  I wouldn't have to brag if anything else in my life was going well.  As it is, my good grades are what I have.  I won't find out for a few days yet what my final grade for the class will be, but I think (hope) it will be an A.

Here is my museum paper for anyone who wishes to read it:

Two Greek Statuettes

In this essay, I will compare and contrast two Greek statuettes.  One, the Limestone Male Statuette from the Archaic period, and the other, a Marble Draped Female Statuette from the Hellenistic period.  These artworks show how art developed over time.  The male statuette is much less developed.  The face is crude and the body is flat and boxy.  The female statuette, on the other hand, is graceful and an archetype of female perfection.  Both small in size, the Archaic piece is about 10” tall, while the Hellenistic piece is about 1 ½” tall.  Though they are from the same general area—Greece, they are quite different.  The artists in both cases are unknown, as is the case in much of ancient artwork.
Both statuettes are attempts at representing the human form.  And they both intend to convey a sense of divinity.  The male statuette was made as a dedication to Apollo.  The female statuette was perhaps a goddess or symbolic of an ideal woman.
I was drawn to these pieces because I like Greek art.  The Greeks were really masters of humanism in art.  These particular works really exemplify a Greek sense of beauty and authenticity, especially the female statuette.  It’s interesting to me also that art progressed as much as it did in this timeframe.  It took the Greeks time to really master the artistic styles that they would become famous for.
Both the Hellenistic and the Archaic periods were times of change in Greece.  The Greek culture during the Hellenistic period was exposed to many different cultural and artistic influences (Hemingway), broadening the abilities and styles of the Greeks.  This particular statuette was probably a copy of a 3rd century BCE statuette.  Wealthy art patrons of the 1st century BCE were eager to fill their homes with magnificent Greek art both to demonstrate their wealth, and to demonstrate their good taste.  Greek artistic styles changed dramatically from the Archaic period to the Hellenistic period, as is evident in these two statuettes.  The Archaic period in Greece came on the heels of what is sometimes called the Dark Age of Greece (Kleiner).  Economic conditions improved, and the Greeks began to trade with other countries.  The Greek culture began to come to life again.  Greek style began to become more naturalistic during this time.  The Limestone Male Statuette was an early Archaic statuette from around 600-550 BCE, and lacks much human vigor, which is representative of the age.
The male and female statuettes express different influences in their compositions.  The male statuette is very rigid and blocky, almost like a soldier preparing to do battle.  It is reminiscent of the stiff Egyptian statues intended to convey eternal stillness.  Its arms are held close to the body and both legs are attached, creating the effect of solidity.  With the female statuette, the legs are not even visible under the long flowing robe.  Her right hand appears to be on her hip in a very human gesture of the body.  Her face is very beautiful leaving no doubt that this was either a goddess of some sort, or an emblem of female perfection.
While both pieces express a new naturalism, the female statuette excels at expressing realism.  The composition of the later statuette—the female—indicates a growth in Greek art.  It is far more human and realistic than the male.  The Hellenistic statuette is not only more human, but more three dimensional.  It fully expresses the figure from all sides.  The Archaic figure seems to want to express divinity as something that lacks ordinary human qualities, whereas the Hellenistic figure embraces and perfects human qualities.  It is much more sophisticated that the Archaic statuette.  Rather than removing the human qualities, the female figure brings what is human to a divine level.
The styles of the two are radically different, the male statuette is flat and almost two dimensional.  The back is literally flat and hasn’t been developed at all.  Perhaps in its time it was placed against a wall.  In contrast to that, the female statuette is gracefully developed all the way around, including a bun in the back of her head.  The female makes wonderful use of lines with her long flowing robe.  The folds of the robe were crafted with great skill.  The male holds his right arm over his chest almost as a kind of salute, or expression of reverence, whereas the female statuette is more open—simply standing.  She may have been a kind of stock statuette representing many goddesses at different times for different reasons.  Although rough and chipped from wear, you can imagine that both these statuettes were at one time perfectly smooth in texture.
In conclusion, both these statuettes are an expression of Greek humanism.  The Limestone Male Statuette is a precursor to the more elaborate and realistic Marble Draped Female Statuette.  And from the two different eras it is easy to see how Greek art evolved and became more refined over time, owing much of the new expressions to outside influences, and Greek innovation.
Works Cited
Hemingway, Colette, and Sean Hemingway.  “Art of the Hellenistic Age and the Hellenistic Tradition.”  June 12, 2011.
Kleiner, Fred S. Gardner’s Art Through the Ages. Vol. 1. Western Version.  100. 2008.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Kids are All Right

Another week of school, and I'm feeling like less and less of an outcast.  We needed something called a blue book in order to take our mid-terms on Monday.  Pretty much no one brought one.  One of the students went to the book store and got a whole bunch of them (at 35 cents a piece), and offered them to the other students, including me.  I happened to complete the mid-term at the same time as another student, so we left class at the same time.  On the way out we chit chatted a little about class, the test, etc.  And on Wednesday, I happened to enter the school at the same time as another student, and we chit chatted on our way in to the classroom.  Those things are very nice to me.  I feel as if I am not being ostracized because of my age.  It really makes a difference in terms of my comfort level with the class.  We're all just students there to learn.  The kids don't seem to feel as awkward about my age as I do.  So it's been a good week. 

In terms of the actual schoolwork--we were all required to go to a museum, find two objects to compare and contrast and write a paper about it.  I think we all did our best, but it was hard.  On Wednesday we exchanged papers and did a bit of a peer review.  After that we turned our papers in for corrections and comments, but not for a grade just yet.  We also had a mid-term on Monday.  It was the same format as the quiz, but bigger.  Unfortunately the professor didn't finish grading them all, so we won't know how we did until Monday.  We also had a couple more lectures.

As for homework this weekend--it's mostly reading.  We are going to have another quiz on Wednesday.  The lower grade of the two quizzes will be dropped.  As I already got 100% on the first quiz, I don't really need to do too well on this one.  But I will study anyway.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Studying and the Quiz

Well, the bad news is I got 2 B pluses on my written assignments.  The good news is I got 100% on the quiz.  I couldn't have done it without youse guys.  Moral support definitely helps.

I think I study more than some of the other students.  The girl next to me doesn't even have a book.  She called me crazy for actually doing the readings.  Some of the students are only hoping to get an Associates Degree which basically only requires that you pass your class.  You can graduate with a C average.  Some of them are hoping to go on to 4 year schools that have approximately the same standards.  But I won't consider this a worthwhile endeavor unless I get into the University of Pennsylvania.  That school requires at least a B average to get in, but the higher your grades are the better chance you have of getting in. 

There are at least a few others in the class who are also reading their book.  I think the other woman in her thirties is studying hard.  I guess no one in their thirties goes to school unless they're serious about it.  There's one other woman there who I think must be in her thirties.  She brought her daughter to class on Monday.  Her daughter was so sweet and so well-behaved, so it wasn't a problem at all.

The professor mentioned before handing back the quizzes that it was very easy for her to tell who was actually reading the book, and who was just going from notes taken in class.  She grades pretty easily, though, and I think some people take advantage.

It's still hard for me being so old and going to school.  I do feel a little out of place.  I guess I just have to keep my eye on the prize of the University of Pennsylvania where there will be many other adult students.  And until that time, just focus on getting the best grades that I can.

Friday, June 3, 2011

2nd Week of School

Well, it can hardly be called a week.  The one class that I'm taking now is only held 2 days a week--Monday and Wednesday.  This past Monday was Memorial Day, so we only had class on Wednesday.  I turned in 2 written assignments.  I participated in class quite a bit again.  That's an easy A for me--class participation.

About the work--one of the things that we had to do for homework was watch a couple of videos and write papers about them.  The girl next to me confessed to me that they were boring.  I basically agreed with her.  But I don't think I minded the assignment quite as much as she did.  Working some crappy job that you're essentially overqualified for while being paid pennies--that's really boring.  Mind numbing.  Soul killing.  School isn't so bad.

I have to prepare now for my first quiz.  This involves memorization.  Memorization is somehow more intimidating to me than writing papers or participating in class.  Either you know it or you don't.  At least the artwork is fairly intersting--the great pyramids of Gizeh, Egypt, a snake goddess, and a few other things.  The ancients were very expressive with their artwork.  Wish me well on my quiz.