Visual culture is a term that is used to describe values, belief and traditions of a group in the society sharing these values. Visual describes the way we perceive through seeing the physical aspects of the environment every day. Culture is the certain ways that given segments of the society behaves. This includes their language, beliefs, ceremonies, ideas, customs and art works. Visual culture can, therefore, be argued to be the use of images to depict the values, customs and beliefs that are held by a given society or to represent these shared values (Wayne). Visual culture is represented through paintings, sculptures, pottery or any other art forms. The visual representations often differ from one period to the next representing the evolution of values in the society.

As society evolves, so do their tools, perception, methods of production and materials that are used to make art works. It is, therefore, possible to capture the advance that the human race achieves throughout historical periods. This can be done through the analysis of the development of visual forms from one period to the next. Historical arts form 1800s and earlier periods can be used to describe the values that were held in this era. The works of such artist as Mary Cassatt’s 1913 painting titled the Mother, Young Daughter, and Son conveys the values the American society in this period. The family was pivotal in this era, and she captured those essences through her painting (Wayne). Painting women was popular in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Mary Cassatt’s painting captures the woman’s emotion and depicts her crucial role in holding the family together.

Ceramic teapots can serve both applicable objects and for decorative purposes.  Applied art involves making art works that can be used for daily purposes, and as admiration objects. Ceramic teapots are in this category. They can be used for storing and carrying tea. They can also be used as a decorative object. Functional ceramic teapots are covered jars that are used for pouring tea. They are made in such way that they are easier to lift and pour tea into cups than any other teapots. They are designed to be functional and decorated to be visually beautiful (Elliott). Ceramic teapots should be balanced object so that they do not fall and pour the liquids put in them. They are also portable and easier to lift and carry from one point to another. For a teapot to be functional it lid must be well fitting and a funnel shaped spout for pouring.

Ceramic teapots origins can be traced to the Chinese Ming dynasty era. The Yixing Teapots were made of clay and were used to brew and serve tea. The Japanese adopted the art of tea making from the Chinese, and this has seen tea become an essential component of Japanese culture, so did the teapots. Tea drinking became fashionable in Europe in the seventeenth century. Porcelain, which is a hard paste, made decorations on teapots and varied designs that were possible. Tea in the seventeenth century was a luxurious drink that was expensive and was only affordable to the upper classes and so were porcelain teapots. The porcelain teapots were, therefore, social status symbols and prized possessions (Elliott). Today tea is a drink that cut across all social classes and all ages. Teapots are, therefore, useful for their practical functions as well as decorative objects. Teapots dating back to the Ming dynasty eras can be found today in museums around the world.

Exhibition Review

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The photographic exhibition by Frank Goodyear depicting the American, western frontier tells of the story of the western frontier through photography. The pictures in this exhibition are of women and men who were influential in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Invention of photography technology in 1839 made it possible to capture and preserve the Texas annexation, and Mexican war. The existing cultures of the west were captured through photography of the prominent individuals at the time. These individuals played large roles in settlements, explorations. The vast territories are captured in the photographs enabling artistic representation of the western diversity in terms of land and people. The photographs capture the qualities that the American Wild West represents and they include possibilities, discord, land and explorations.

It was believed that the west was a place where an individual could reinvent themselves and make something out of their lives (Arnold and Wiener). The exhibited photos visually show these characters to reinforce what is known of the American west. Vast tracks of uninhibited land represent dreams and endless possibilities visually depicting a land where one could get a fresh start. The region was transformed when individuals of different diversity met to make their dreams a reality. Through hard work, wars, inventions and beliefs in endless possibility, they transformed the vast, wild lands into a picture of prosperity.

This photographic exhibition, therefore, offers a historical lesson and dispels some of the myths on the American west. The pictures on this exhibition are by a number of photographers. Some of the works are by unknown photographers. Some of the photographs are by John Plumbe Jr, an engineer by training. He took up photography in 1845 and was a strong advocate of the transcontinental railroad. He was among the most recognized photographers in its early period and established a number of galleries to exhibit his works. Mathew Brady has also a number of photographs in this exhibition. He is regarded as one of the earliest photojournalist in his era. He did extensive photographic work on the civil war documenting a scene in more than one thousand photos. His pictures include those of Lincoln, General Grant and ordinary soldiers in battlefields and camps. Photography during this period was not as developed as it is today subjects were required to stand still for their photos to be taken.

The portrait of Geronimo by Frank Randall portrays one of the mythical figures in American history. Geronimo was both feared and admired he was an inspiration to the Native Americans and represented their struggles. Frank Randall started his photographic career in the early 1840s. He is among the first photographers who were admired and talented. His works represent a crucial era in the American history.

The photo exhibition portrays an essential part of the American history by depicting some of the historic figures who are part of the crucial era. There are varied themes in this exhibition. They include cultural diversity, conflicts, slavery among other themes that are part of the American history. They represent some of the dark eras of the country and help demystify some of the renowned figures in American history. The exhibition also represents some of the values associated with the western frontiers. These include endless possibility, struggles and conflicts these are a part of history that make up America as a land of opportunity. The exhibition, therefore, is a vital part of the country’s history and represents part of the American dream.

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