Detroit Institute of the Arts

Detroit Institute of the Arts

As part of my determination to master and experience the reality of Art, I visited The Detroit Institute of the Arts. The museum is recognized not only as one of the top Art Museums in the United States of America but also attracts visitors from different parts of the globe. My visit to the Museum took place on 11th November between 1.00 pm and 4 p.m. One of the galleries that I visited is the new gallery that focuses on Japanese Art. The exciting thing that I noticed about the gallery with Japanese Art is that artwork was arranged to depict their original context as well as spaces. In the Japanese gallery, I visited a Buddhist temple, a tea room and I was also shown domestic rooms. The Japanese gallery well organized and gives a visitor the real picture of Japanese culture without having traveled the long distance to Japan to get the experience. When I was in the Japanese gallery, I almost forgot that I was in America as I was surrounded by the rich Japanese culture that eventually gave me a memorable experience. The gallery for Japanese Art also improves the experience of a visitor using some digital elements I witnessed that are used to further enhance the context. An example of the digital elements is a touchscreen tablet that had a printed 3D tea bowl, and I was able to handle it using the screen.

I also visited the gallery that has been hosting many Islamic works.  From the gallery devoted to collecting Islamic Arts, I was able to relate religion to art as well as the power of Art in history. From the Islamic gallery, my guide was able to walk me through the events of Ottoman Empire using the pictures drawn in the gallery.  I also walked through a gallery that had focused on Christian art, and I was able to see famous figures in Christianity depicted in carefully drawn by highly skilled Artists.

I also managed to visit the section for European Art where I was able to see many portraits collected from different centuries. From the gallery, I was able to relate how people have changed their mode of dressing. I, however, noticed that some of the clothes that people have today had borrowed some design aspects from the 19th century. What I enjoyed most at the Museum is the experience of original portraits that were painted on different materials as opposed to the copies of the same pictures that are usually published in books.

I also appreciated the fact that the staffs in the Museum are hospitable people who were willing to answer every question that the visitors asked. From the interaction, I was able to gain knowledge on where some pictures came from and the history as well as the philosophy behind them. I also learned how a portrait could easily be interpreted and come up with meaning because many of the pictures that I viewed had a meaning behind them. In total, I was able to visit ten galleries including the one for American collections. I found every piece of art to be unique in a way and therefore there was none that I disliked. The Museum visit, therefore, remains the best experience in bringing out the true meaning of Art.

The Nut Gatherers

The nut gatherer is one of the paintings that I was able to see and study during my visit to the Detroit Institute of the Arts. After making an inquiry, I was informed that the painting’s original name was Les Noisettes French name that helped me to determine quickly. The painting illustrates two girls that appear to be young and also seem to be gathering some nuts from their environment. William-Adolphe a painter that was French is credited for coming up with the beautiful Nut Gatherers portrait. I also noticed that the painting had some qualities of a photograph. From the painting with two girls, it is easy to observe the rich environment at the time with the green plants surrounding them and they are evidently full of life. The dominant color is green although the background had some dark look (Gerstenblat 25). A much closer look suggested that the girls were somewhere close to the sea judging from the blue color that appears to be the horizon. The oil painting was completed in 1882, and therefore it is one of the amazing pieces of Art that has existed for centuries.  The two girls also appear to be intimate with each other, and they seem to be discussing something as they carry on with their activity.  One of the girls that appear to be holding some hazelnuts seemed to have a face with some hidden sadness although it was overshadowed by the love assured by her friend.  The presence of the other girl lying on the ground looks like a reliable assurance. The second girl on the ground has a smile on her face that does not necessarily reflect her joy but appears to be showing some understanding towards her friend. She seems to be listening to her friend and acts as the source of comfort and encouragement to her (Gerstenblat 29). From the portrait, I was able to imagine the life at the time of its drawing and compare it with modern times. Since the two girls appear to be gathering hazelnuts, I concluded that it must have been a form of leisure for young girls at the time. Such activities appeared to be much fun to me as compared to the modern times where outdoor activities are limited. The media and computers much influence the modern way of life, and most young people prefer computer games as opposed to outdoor activities. The portrait is, therefore, a critical reminder of some of the leisure activities that children in the modern world are missing. The portrait also has a direct message of intimacy. It is the kind of intimacy that many people long to share; the portrait is a clear illustration that loving and caring for other people as being a key aspect of human life even hundreds of years ago like at the time when the portrait was being drawn.

Something You Can Feel

Another portrait goes by the Title Something You Can Feel. Mickalene Thomas created the portrait. The portrait was created in 2008 and therefore is classified in the 20th Century. The mediums used include acrylic paint and oil enamel on the wood panels. The interesting thing about the painting is that it has both American as well as the African Aspects of Art. It cannot, therefore, be classified as to be a reflection of the pure western culture as opposed to the previous nut gatherers portrait. The skin color of the girls depicted in the Nut Gatherers portrait shows that they were westerners, and so is their mode of dressing. When compared to the portrait by Mickalene that suggests a woman with some African ancestry the difference emerges. Even without knowing the time at which each of the portraits was created, it is easy to tell that Something You Can Feel was created in modern times by looking at its contents. The woman is sitting on a piece of furniture that I can relate to because I have used it in different homes. The clothes that the woman is wearing are also used today as compared to the ones that the two girls on Nut Gatherers portrait were using. While the Nut Gatherers portrait shows the beauty of nature in an outdoor setting, the portrait created by Mickaline Thomas appears to depict a lady sitting in a room, and therefore the natural environment has been concealed. The portrait by Mickaline Thomas to some extent depicts the power of the modern black woman. The woman depicted appears to be confident and to some extent feeling like a boss. The portrait can be related to the power of modern women that can accomplish many tasks independently unlike traditionally where women relied on men for almost everything. Therefore the two portraits have a sharp difference in their message Nut Gatherers appears to be focusing on love but the second portrait appears to be portraying the power of a woman as well as motivation.  The Artists that prepared the two portraits to appear to have had different ideas as they come from different countries. The main similarity between the two portraits is that they are oil paintings.


A visit to the Museum is the best way to understand and appreciate Art as well as culture. Through Art, the message of love, as well as hope, can be passed as illustrated The Nut Gatherers portrait. On the other hand, women are coming up to express their power and confidence through  Art Mickaline Thomas being one of them.Art also remains relevant throughout history as it is the only way the current way of life can be illustrated to pass on for generations to come in future. Different portraits also carry different messages depending on the time and the Artist creating them as I realized after carefully studying two different portraits.

Studying Art this semester had helped me to pay attention to the details of all the pieces of Art I came across something I could not have done before I started starting Art. I have also learned the skill of obtaining meaning and the messages from different portraits. The lessons have therefore helped me to understand the true meaning and relevance of visual arts.

Works Cited

Gerstenblatt, Paula. “Collage portraits as a method of analysis in qualitative research.” International Journal of Qualitative Methods 12.1 (2013): 294-309.

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