Public Art In Houghton Essay

Length: 4 pages Sources: 3 Subject: Art  (general) Type: Essay Paper: #91878008 Related Topics: Costumes, Visual Arts, Art History, Arts
Excerpt from Essay :

Houghton's The Miner

The Miner (1979) is a bronze statue by Elizabeth Biesiot in the city of Houghton, Michigan (Smithsonian Art Inventory, 2015). It is dedicated to the miners that gave birth to the city through their hard work in the copper mines. Its body is of bronze and its base is of stone: the Miner, in mid-stride, is perched upon stones, which indicate the foundational nature of the subject. The statue appeals to one's sense of place, time and history all at once, and the more one stands in front of it and soaks in the surrounding environment, the more one feels grateful to the men who are represented by this statue.

In a way, it does the same thing that the Vietnam Memorial does: it evokes a sensitive subject and makes it real -- and in doing so also pays tribute to the men and women who gave their lives. In this sense, the Miner does what a good work of art should do: it elevates the mind and gets it thinking about more than just the representation in front of it. For instance, when one pauses long enough to consider what the Miner stands for, one sees more than just a man going to work in a hole. One sees the wife who is waiting for him at home, and the children he is working to feed. One wonders about the domestic situation: how many were happy, how many were lonely, how many had strong families. One remembers the disaster of the collapsed mine in Chile a few years ago and wonders whether the families of these miners ever feared that their husbands or fathers or brothers might not come back alive.

One also sees the importance of the labor that these men provided for the city, which honors them today with this memorial. The memorial itself is made of copper -- the same metal that these men went into the earth to find. So there is a...

...

Though its form and its attire, and even its subject, are probably not what the Greeks would have done (their statues were more poised, stoic in a way), there is something that makes one think of the classical period in which sculpture came to really bloom (Johnson, 2003).

Here in Houghton, the Miner is striding forward, capture forever in mid-step as he makes his way to work (or so one assumes -- perhaps he is heading home after a hard day's labor). Either way, he is erect, standing up straight -- his posture indicative of a strong constitution. Atop his head is his miner's hat with the light required for maneuvering in the dark caverns underground. He wears a coat and in his hands he carries his pick and his pail. His boots are spiked and his trousers tied by what looks like a makeshift belt. Yet, his face has a happy weariness about it: in it one sees the smiling eyes of youth, the upturned cheeks, but also the careworn brow of one who hopes to make his way well in the world.

The elements of visual expression are located in the stance of the Miner as he proceeds either to or from work -- and they are especially discernible in the features of his face, which is happy, and in his stride, which is confident. The shape of the statue is such that it conveys a sense of purpose, of meaning self-contained within the subject: the Miner is an important figure within the community and knows the value of his person. He is not, however, an individual who is full of himself but rather one who is happy to serve the community and the greater good by digging into the bowels of the earth. Ironically, he does not appear to be one you might ordinarily find in a mine: he almost has a jovial appearance -- a spiritual joy within him.

The texture of the statue is of course hard and metallic, yet there is…

Sources Used in Documents:

References

Johnson, P. (2003). Art: A New History. NY: Harcourt.

Smithsonian Art Inventory. (2015). Waymaking. Retrieved from http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WMCG2J_The_Miner_Houghton_MI

Wolfe, T. (2000). Hooking Up. NY: Picador.


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