Analyzing Sculpture

Sculpture is one of the few pieces of art that engages our senses differently than with any other type of art. This is because sculpture occupies spaces a three-dimensional mass, compared to paintings that occupy two-dimensional spaces. Paintings and other two - dimensional artwork can suggest density, but sculpture is dense. We fully apprehend sculpture by using no only the visual and tactile senses, but also the weight and volume behind those surfaces.

However, Sculpture is not experienced only by sight alone. Our nervous systems are much more complex. When something triggers a sense, a chain reaction of all the other sensors follows, by either sensory motor connections or memory association. We are constantly grasping and handling things, as well as seeing, smelling, tasting, and hearing them. When we see an object, we can generalize how the object feels, how it sounds when hit, how it tastes, and how it smells if we were to approach it.

All of the senses are involved in sculpture, but touch is much more involved in our participation with sculpture. By clarifying such differences, we get a better understanding of the sculpture and therefore, a more rewarding participation.

There are many ways to evaluate art. When we evaluate sculpture, we become a critic. As a responsible critic, we aim for the fullest understanding and participation with a sculpture. By understanding all of the concepts of art and the necessity for participation when evaluating it, we get a better understanding of those concepts, thus allowing us a more refined second experience and wiser critic of the arts.

There are three different types of criticism: descriptive – focusing on form, interpretive – focusing on content, and evaluative – focusing on the relative merits of a work. Each type sharpens our perceptions of a form of art and increases our understanding of its content.

In this essay, we will evaluate the sculpture, Vietnam Women’s Memorial: Three Nurses and a Wounded Soldier by Glenna Goodacre. This memorial is displayed in Washington, DC as a way of “honoring the commitment, dedication, and courage of all of the women who served during Vietnam”(“Introduction”). Ten thousand women fought in combat alongside their brother soldiers, ninety percent of whom served in the health care professions, nursing and tending to the casualties of war.

The multi-figure bronze monument is a” sculpture in the round portraying three Vietnam-era women, one of whom is caring for a wounded male soldier.” (Goodacre) It’s purpose is to identify the military and civilian women who served during the Vietnam war, educate the public about their role, and to facilitate research on the physiological, psychological, and sociological issues correlated to their service. Many believe that the memorial grew out of a need to heal the nation's wounds as America struggled to reconcile different moral and political points of view. In fact, the memorial was conceived and designed to make no political statement whatsoever about the war. Goodacre’s desire was to create a lasting tribute to the American women serving in Vietnam is founded upon my deep respect for each of them, that her hands can shape the clay, which might touch the hearts and heal the wounds of those who served fills me with humility and deep satisfaction. She only hopes that future generations who view the sculpture will stand in tribute to the women who served during the Vietnam era.

This sculpture is arranged by placing the four figures in a composition that is interesting from all angles: a true sculpture in the round. A nurse – in a moment of crisis, supported by sandbags as she serves as the life support for a wounded soldier lying across her lap. The standing woman looks up, in search of a med-i-vac helicopter or, perhaps, in search of help from God. The kneeling figure has been called “the heart and soul” of the piece because so many vets see themselves in her. She stares at any empty helmet, her posture reflecting her despair, frustrations, and all the horrors of war. The soldier’s face is half-covered by a bandage, creating an anonymous figure with which veterans can identify. Even though he is wounded, he will live.

“The sculpture by Glenna Goodacre is the single most important force in the design of the landscape setting”(Architect’s Notes). The composition of the sculpture involves the viewer in a series of successive views. The visitor is drawn by the composition to move around the sculpture and to determine a personal perception of the composition from many different points. This need to involve the viewer in a kinetic relationship to the statue led to the design of a terrace that, while being functionally adequate for viewing, would also provide space for seating.

When I look at this sculpture, it reminds me about the many women who fought for my right to freedom. Many men and women, fighting alongside each other died so that we might be free. Each day, they either fought in the heat of battle or fought to save someone else’s life. These events evoked many emotions such as compassion, anxiety, fatigue, and above all, dedication to their fellow soldiers and loved ones at home. women's war was different from the men's - instead of exploding in the jungle, it blew up in the mind. Surrounded by death, the nurses had to shut down emotionally. They could not show their feelings to the soldiers they were trying to heal. ninety percent of who served in the health care professions, nursing and tending to the casualties of war. They were just a few of the heroes during the Vietnam War.

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