Museum Paper: The first paper will require you to travel (either physically or virtually) to a museum with an Asian art collection. I have listed the homepages of many museums around the United States that have significant Asian art collections in the webliography section of the course website. If you live in an area where there are no Asian art collections, you may view a museum’s online collections, but I would encourage you to view the actual objects if possible because it will give you a much greater appreciation for the size and impact of the work. This will be a simple visual analysis and reaction. You will be graded according to your ability to look at and consider the work of art based on the skills you learn in the early part of the course. You are not required to do any research for this assignment. The only requirement is that you write your paper on an Asian art object. For the purposes of this course, Asia is meant to include Japan, China, Korea, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Tibet, Mongolia, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Burma (Myanmar), and Indonesia. No other geographical location will be accepted. There are no restrictions on what time period the object comes from. A more detailed description is posted to the course homepage. (PAPERS MAY NOT BE SUBMITTED ONCE THE DEADLINE HAS PASSED)
For the purposes of this paper, you must travel to a museum (either physically or virtually) that has a collection of works of art from Asia (for this class, we are limiting our definition of Asia to the material covered in class. This means China, Japan, Korea, India, and SE Asia) to view a work of art on display. You must also either scan and attach an image of a ticket stub to the museum you visit or provide the website you navigate.
Although you are limited geographically in scope, you may feel free to choose an object from any time period. However, if you are new to the study of art history, you may find it easier to produce a stronger, more compelling paper if you focus on something figurative or narrative rather than something abstract. This will allow you to grasp onto something in the image rather than fishing around for something meaningful to say. Of course you should not feel limited, but you should also work from your strengths.
You will find an object of your choosing and tell me what you see. You will use descriptive language to illustrate to me what kind of object it is, what it is made of, what are the possible meanings, and how it impacts you. If you choose a piece of sculpture, you should note how it feels to walk around it and experience the object in 3-dimensional space. If you choose a painting, you might want to mention the texture of the painting. There are many ways you can describe your object so please do not worry about the “correct” way. You are being challenged to use your eyes to see what’s in front of you rather than reading about it in a book. The paper should include a section devoted to a physical description of the object and also showcase your ability to draw conclusions from the visual evidence. As you’ve seen from the first week of class, as art historians, we make assumptions based on what we can see in front of us. You may not always be “correct,” but your ideas need to be grounded in the evidence. In the same way you would not argue that Huckleberry Finn is a story about space exploration, you should not make assertions that an image of a Buddha is a sculpture about the Cold War.
Of course, you will need to tell me the artist, title, date, medium of the object you choose, and what museum you visited (either physically or virtually).
This paper must be 3 pages, typed, double-spaced, 12-point, Times New Roman. Do not adjust margins from the default settings. Do not center-justify. The paper needs to be left-justified (this does not mean you should not indent for each new paragraph).
There is no need to provide a bibliography since you are not required to do any outside research. If, however, you consult an outside source, you must cite it using the Chicago Manual of Style.
Lee, Sherman. A History of Far East Asian Art, 5th Ed., New York: Harry Abrams
Rawson, Philip. The Art of Southeast Asia, London: Thames and Hudson, 1990.