Ackland Museum Visit

I have taken a lot of English courses throughout my life, each with their own unique spin, and each with their own unique set of books that I am told to read and examine. While I have been asked to compare novels to things in the past, I acknowledged recently that there are endless interpretations to the way that people can perceive things. One of the most iconic lines in To Kill a Mockingbird is when Atticus says, “you never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view.” Reading this as a kid was a very important life lesson for me and this quote flashed through my head as we were looking at various pieces of art at the Ackland. I have always been able to acknowledge the presence of different viewpoints and I like to think that I keep an open mind when it comes to people with differing opinions than my own. Seeing the various depictions of art at the Ackland about the same overarching topic illuminated the fact that people can have vastly different viewpoints on things. For example, the first and second paintings that we examined at the Ackland both depicted the fall of man but in completely different ways. The first one we examined was in black and white and had Adam and Eve at the forefront of the image. They were also depicted as the lightest things in the picture which made them really stand out and overall it seemed like a more harsh and serious way of depicting the fall of man… more stereotypically correct. This was drastically different than the second depiction of the fall of man which was in color, only contained Eve, had way more animals, and depicted the tree and the serpent as the main focus. Additionally, Eve was African American in the second painting whereas in the first one she was white.

If someone examined the two paintings side by side, they could quickly glean that they are two vastly different interpretations of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden yet they both represent the fall of man. I think this was a perfect way to wrap up the semester as this also applies to the adaptations we have read in class. For example, Robinson Crusoe and the movie “Robinson Crusoe on Mars” both portrayed the same concept, yet they were vastly different interpretations. I think this has a lot to do with audience. Robinson Crusoe was published in the early 18th century and appealed to an audience that was completely different than “Robinson Crusoe on Mars” which was released in 1964. Historical context, location, and time period have a lot do with the way that an audience examines art, literature, film, or the like. The second interpretation of the fall of man, the one with color, was painted by an African-American artist who chose to interpret the fall of man in a completely different way. She chose to focus on the positive aspects of a newly created world by using bright colors and making Eve appear innocent. This greatly contrasts the stereotypical view of the fall of man as Adam, and especially Eve, were seen as corrupt. In the first piece of art Eve acknowledges the serpent holding on to the fruit of knowledge yet she reaches out for it and attempts to take it. In the second piece of art, Eve is seen almost stroking the serpent, as if she is curious and wants to understand more about the animal. She isn’t depicted reaching for the fruit but the animal itself. Visiting the Ackland museum showed me that varying depictions of topics can ultimately display the same thing, just in their own, unique way. I think this is what makes adaptations powerful. It allows the reader/viewer/listener to see something in a completely different light.