Art Society Conflict: Ruth Shmueli

My name is Ruth Shmueli and I am a Junior studying International Business and Management at Florida International University. My goal is to help companies expand and grow in international markets. I love exploring different cultures through food, art and interacting with people. I am passionate about traveling, photography, and culinary arts. Photography is one of the main ways that I express myself creatively and I want to make it possible for other people to view the world from a new perspective through my photography. I believe that the world is not black and white and being able to expose the grey areas in my photography is my mission.

Norton as text:
The link between love, death and sensuality by Ruth Shmueli of FIU in the Norton Museum on 9/22/2019

Out of all the extensive and diverse collections at the Norton Museum I chose Jeff Koons painting “Antiquity” to analyze. What initially captured my attention was its large size and how it spoke to my sensibilities for classical and abstract art. It was interesting to see these both combined in a harmonious way that doesn’t clash with one another. The size gives it an air of grandiose that imposes on the viewer. My initial observations without any context was that Koons is making an overall statement with Ancient, formal and abstract techniques to represent female form and anatomy. He shows how people view the female form throughout different time periods.

After gaining more information about Koons and the painting I developed some different views of the artwork. In the background we see Pablo Picasso’s Le Baiser from 1969 which depicts Picasso’s kiss with his final wife Jacqueline, while Titan’s Venus and Adonis from 1554 shows Venus holding on to her lover before he goes to war and eventually die in battle. Then, the sculpture with an exposed front and back that we see were not a mere rendering of renaissance era sculptures but a sculpture of Aphrodite (the goddess of love, beauty and pleasure) from 100-200 CE. Lastly, the “tribal” sculptures are known as Uli, which are funerary sculptures in Papua New Guinea. After learning that most of the components of the painting were renderings of famous artwork, I think it diminishes the level of originality that I initially thought the painting possessed. However, there is a very clear use of skill and technique throughout the entire work of art as well as a very moving and well thought out message behind the painting. Through the image of Aphrodite there is a representation of love and passion, while in the middle we see the Uli which represents death. Then under the painting we see the patchwork of Le Baiser which depicts a final kiss and Venus and Adonis which depicts a final embrace before death. Koons then paints an abstract rendering of female anatomy to portray sensuality. We realize that there is an overall message that love, death and sensuality are all interconnected. Before death, Koons shows us that there is some force within us- either love or sensuality- that draws us closer into the person for the comfort of a final connection and final touch between two beings. This final interaction before death is seen with tension, love, and passion because of the fear of finality. It is interesting to see how differently we interpret things with and without context.

Deering as Text:

A Journey of Civilization and Nature By Ruth Shmueli of FIU in The Deering Estate on 10/02/19

The Deering estate brings together many different aspects of cultural connections within a civilized society and an untamed ecosystem . Nature comes together with art, history, and architecture in one condensed area, allowing for the perfect environment to take a cultural journey where one can take stops along the way to explore each subject. When you first enter the property of the Deering estate you are welcomed by nature in all its glory. As you walk further you will be in the presence of a beautiful house with Spanish architecture. The house was built for Charles Deering who had a specific taste that was inspired by the Spanish architecture of Maricel, enhanced by Moorish influences throughout the structure of the house. Art comes into play with Charles Deering’s extensive collection of Spanish paintings. In the theme of decadence and luxury, Charles Deering housed paintings of famous artists, El Greco and Goya. Currently the paintings are not present at the house, but we can see other paintings hung on the walls of the estate. The Spanish art blends perfectly with the Spanish architecture, furthering the connection of Charles Deering’s heritage.


After visiting the estate, we ventured out to explore the history of the area surrounding the estate. After a long hike through undisturbed nature, we arrived at a spot were the remains of Paleo-Indians were found. That exact spot is a revered archaeological spot due to the fact that many fossils from the paleolithic era were found there. Standing in the sinkhole, I was able to see history and nature interacting with one another and I felt as if I could now more fully understand our part within the environment.

We then hiked to other sights where we explored the history of the Tequesta’s at the Tequesta burial mound. This was one of the last remaining burial mounds of the Tequesta’s, but we see nature yet again overpowering the historical sight. There were overgrown trees and debris from one of the last hurricanes to hit Miami. We see through these historical sights that no matter how intensely we attempt to preserve history, nature will take its course. As much as we think that we have dominated nature, at the end of the day, nature dominates us.


After taking this journey exploring how art, history, architecture and nature coincide with each other, I was able to then incorporate these concepts into a photograph I took on the trip. The photograph above brings together history and nature by showing that when an animal passes, their remains stay but nature will eventually prevail and assert its dominance. Art and architecture are also tied into this photograph through the distinct structure and “architecture”’ of the leaves and the animal’s body, as something that should be admired and something that is unique. By appreciating these connections, these objects and concepts that we see everyday are transformed to art. My visit to the Deering Estate allowed me to take a cultural journey where the path taken, and the stops made along the way, broadened my perspective of how interconnected civilization and nature really is.

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