Essay Example on A Visual Analysis of Masami Teraoka

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A Visual Analysis of Masami Teraoka The Cloisters Tsunami The art work I chose for my visual analysis is titled The Cloisters Tsunami by the Japanese American artist Masami Teraoka The Renaissance style painting was created in 2002 2005 The piece paints a story of disorder in religion inserted in the artist's portrayal of tragic events surrounding the period it was created The oil on canvas painting is located at the Honolulu Museum of Art in Honolulu HI I chose this painting because it was thought provoking and really stood out in the room full of several other great works I walked around and looked at so many pieces but I wanted to understand this particular painting more and I knew the short description to the right of the gold framed painting would not suffice My initial thoughts were a bit less polished than they are now after looking at the painting more and doing some research on the artist and related historical events Color and choice of shapes are important in The Cloisters Tsunami as it gives representation to the different people included the red robe suggests the man is a Cardinal and the yellow robe and hat shape relates the groping baby figure to the pope 



The long haired figure wearing a dark blue robe is likely to be a female clergy She looks over toward the Cardinal in disgust as she holds on dearly to the pregnant woman She is sympathetic to the naked pregnant woman who reclines back into her arms as if she s suffering however it is significant the way her body is facing the direction of the upside down Cardinal The look is defiant It suggests she is not only consoling the nude pregnant woman but is also standing up for her The contrast of colors between the background and the different figures highlights each of the focal points effectively In the painting the events I see are the September 11 attacks an earthquake and resulting tsunami and an embarrassment of the Catholic church In the background on the right side each of the towers has an explosion with smoke billowing which I believe is to represent the events of 9 11 when hijackers crashed American commercial airplanes into the World Trade Center The cloisters are similar in architecture to The Met Cloisters a museum in New York City accurately placing the general location of the World Trade Center in the scene The cloisters have cracks splitting like an earthquake with what looks to be like rushing dark water of a tsunami surrounding them I believe this is in reference to the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami that claimed more than 230 000 lives in 14 different countries and is said to be one of the most lethal natural disasters in our history Taylor 


The Twin Towers depicted here are reminiscent of the Tower of Babel which ties into the religious portrayal in the foreground creating unity within the unconventional painting You can also see small figures falling or jumping out of the towers Meanwhile the people in the foreground are much larger in proportion to the objects in the background bringing emphasis to them as they float above This allows viewers to see the iconography that gives a religious denotation to this painting The figures on the left suggest the artist is exposing the sexual abuse scandals in the Catholic church The artist paints himself as the far left figure using true characteristics of his long gray hair and glasses He is dangling a Cardinal clutching onto a baby by his ankles revealing his once hidden lingerie attire Next to them you see a pregnant nun in only a white veil and black thong while a baby dressed in a pope's outfit below gropes her From my perspective this signifies the artists desire to expose the Cardinal s cover up of the sexual misconduct and abuse of both children and nuns that is happening in the Catholic church A major incident occurring during this time was the cover up by Cardinal Bernard Law In 2002 a story was published by The Boston Globe asserting Law knew about the repeated abuse by former priest John J Geoghan Rezendes I view the groping baby as a mocking of the pope and his repudiation of the allegations contributing to the problem 



The church knew these crimes were happening and swept it under the rug evidently setting their priorities elsewhere Although I thoroughly enjoy The Cloisters Tsunami there are others who aren't too fond of it To get the outlook of someone who is religious in contrast to my completely non religious perspective I questioned a devout friend on what he thought of the painting He hated the painting and when I asked him why he said he didn't like it because everything is wrong and doesn't portray religion accurately I found that to be so interesting how he detested the painting while I admired it It was interesting how our dissimilar religious upbringings changed the perspective of the piece I think this painting is significant in art today as it discloses the imperfections in religion instead of religion in its accuracy My friend could not clearly interpret the meaning of the piece but could easily relate to The Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci Meanwhile I couldn't tell you what The Last Supper is about but could find deep meaning behind the religious art and commentary of major headlines delivered in this painting


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