LUCA KELLEY NIELSEN/SAGAMORE STAFF
From shining gold and silver plates stacked like the Pyramids of Giza to self portraits and paintings by Pierre-Auguste Renior, diversity at the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) has shown through regardless of COVID-19 safety precautions in place.
Abiding by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, the MFA has all visitors complete an attestation form for any signs of the rising cases of COVID-19. Many of their smaller exhibits are closed to the public because of their size and lack of distancing opportunities, but the MFA is dedicated to providing their visitors with the same experience regardless.
Outside the entrance to the museum, you can see the iconic lawn art on display. “The Walking Man” by Jonathan Borofsky stands on top of a beam in the parking lot, and “Day and Night” by Antonio Lopez-Garcia shows two large baby heads made from copper and other metals. “Appeal to the Great Spirit” (as shown in picture above) depicts an equestrian Native American calling to the sky in search of the Creator. These pieces act as a great introduction into the different styles and regions of art on display.
Upon walking through the doors, you will be able to see exhibits almost immediately. One of the MFA’s featured exhibits, “Black Histories, Black Futures,” which is curated in part by Becoming a Man (BAM), The BASE and the Bloomberg Arts Internship Boston Program, shows African-American culture and art in American society.
Another exhibit showing demands for social justice is “Murals for Movement.” The Murals for Movement show empowering moments for reform through many different pieces. “No Weapon Formed Against Thee Shall Prosper” (2020) shows a young Martin Luther King Jr. with a clenched fist as well as infant George Floyd in the backdrop. Throughout the changing demographics in cities, especially in the Boston area, art has had a more important impact and role in illustrating the beauty behind the protests following unjust police brutality against the African-American community.
The “Personal Space Self-Portraits on Paper” exhibit offers artists the ability to express themselves through self-portraits and beyond. Featuring Willie Cole’s “Man Spirit Mask,” the portrait shows how his mask might entail the past branding of slaves. Cobi Moules’, a transgender man, portrait offers a glimpse into his personality and future self.
In addition to curating a social statement about the world today through the art they feature, the MFA also focuses on depicting some of the foreign regions that inspired artwork in the United States.
One of the most mesmerizing spaces in the MFA is the “European Painting 1550–1700 and Hanoverian Silver” exhibit. The space features over 30 biblical paintings and a vast collection of silver and gold plates from the German House of Hanover. The setting of the plates was one of, if not the most memorable sections of the museum because of how they were carefully organized in a pyramid form and the diversity of designs on the faces of the items.
As well as promoting diversity, the MFA frequently honors local artists. The “Elsa Dorfman: Me and My Camera” exhibit symbolizes the life of Elsa Dorfman, American photographer, who passed away this past April in Cambridge, Mass. The exhibit goes through intimate photos of her son and herself shot with a 200-pound, 20 x 24 Polaroid camera. The photos not only show the simple yet inspiring nature of photography, but also of the photographers themselves.
For so long, art has acted as a setting for people to express themselves through illustration and creation, and diversity in works allows for diversity of expression. From the beautiful murals of African-American heroes of the Civil Rights and Black Lives Matter movements to the diversity of the self-portraits, the MFA succeeded in including a variety of voices.