The visit to the University of Michigan Museum of Arts (UMMA) last Thursday was the highlight of my day. I love art because of the freedom it allows you to bring your imagination to life and every opportunity that I get to see some; I take it and enjoy every moment of it. Two of my favorite types of art are sculptures and abstract paintings because of the way that they communicate their story to me. The UMMA was full of wonderful pieces from around the world, representing different countries, cultures, religions, mediums and even different time periods. Anyone walking in the UMMA would surely find at least one thing that would grab their attention and that’s what happened to me.
One piece of art that caught my interest in the UMMA when I first walked in the building was a statue of a young woman. The uneasiness that were displayed in her face made me really wonder why she looked so worried and what she was looking for. There she stood on a pedestal, barefoot, next to the base of a broken column, and she holding a cane in one hand while the other hand cupped to her ear as if she was trying to listen to something out in the distance. At first glance I thought that the statue was from the French Revolution because of some resemblance it had with a painting called “Liberty Leading People”, but after a close observation of her dress and its simplistic design, I discovered that she was either Roman or Greek. The name of the statue was “Nydia the Blind Flower Girl of Pompeii” by Randolph Rogers and it answered some of the questions that I had about the statue while at the same time filling my head with new ones. My interest in the statue grew as my curiosity for it grew and I started to really observe the piece in detail.
On my yellow notebook I jutted down some notes on how the look on her face embodies the feeling of worriedness and love as she tries to find whoever or whatever that conveyed these emotions in her. The way that the bottom of her dress clings to her cane shows the powerful and chaotic winds that push against her. By her foot, there was the broken base of a column, perhaps representing destruction.
Later that day when I got in front of a computer, I started to researched the art piece and found an interesting story behind the statue. As it turns out, Nydia is a character from the novel “The Last days of Pompeii” by Edward Bulwer-Lytton. The story takes place in Pompeii before the volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius that burnt and buried the whole city. In this story, Nydia is a blind slave girl falls deeply in love with a handsome nobleman named Glaucus who in an act of compassion buys her from her abusive master. Nydia misunderstands his act of compassion for affection but unfortunately for her, he loves another woman. During the scene from the book where the statue was inspired by, Nydia is in search for Glaucus and his lover and leads them out of the city to a ship. The next day, feeling defeated and depressed in knowing that she will never be with her one true live, Nydia jumps into the sea.
This piece of art was very famous in the US and across Europe during the late 1800s because of its portrayal of the characters Nydia form the popular novel “Last Days of Pompeii”. Nydia the fearless blind girl, who searches for her lover in the burning city of Pompeii, represents the power of true love. This statue very accurately depicts the innocence and loveliness of Nydia with the position of her body and her worried face. It also tells us about the destruction of Pompeii from the way the strong wind blows against her dress, covering her cane and the broken column next to her.
The University Of Michigan Museum Of Arts is full of amazing pieces of arts from around the world. Every piece that I observed had a story of its own and expressed it in a unique way that inspired me to express my stories through art. I love museums because of the wonderful arts and their stories and how no two are alike. It’s where you get exposed to culture and see how creativity and imagination are brought to life through tons of different mediums. I certainly enjoyed out trip to the UMMA and would love to visit it again to see the pieces that I had missed.