Visions of Peace

By Galvin, Rachel | Humanities, July/August 1998 | Go to article overview
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Visions of Peace

Galvin, Rachel, Humanities

You won't find antiwar protest images such as chanting people with raised fists in the Peace Art Show held in New Mexico this summer. Joe Traugott, curator of the Jonson Gallery of the University of New Mexico, says that audiences often mistakenly "equate peace art with protest art." The artists participating in this show, however, are interested in exploring the psychological and social aspects of peace.

"The Peace Art Show is not an apologetic exhibition," project director Tom Powell explains, "but rather one that acknowledges a shared history surrounding the bomb. The purpose of the exhibition is to build bridges between Americans and Japanese, using the metaphors of visual language to communicate."

The term "peace art" was borrowed from the Hiroshima Peace Art Association, which for thirty-nine years has held an annual, week-long exhibition to commemorate the nuclear destruction in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The artwork arriving from Japan this August is part of an exchange that began in 1995, when a group of New Mexican artists traveled to Japan to display their peace-related works. The trip coincided with the fiftieth anniversary of the nuclear bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki (August, 1945).

On August 21, a group of Japanese artists will complete the exchange by bringing their works and the works of other Japanese artists to the South Broadway Cultural Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Some of the artists whose work will appear in the exhibition are hibakusha, or survivors of the nuclear blasts.

The New Mexican artwork brought to Japan in 1995 focused on psychological definitions of peace, spiritual peace, and inner peace, and took on sociological topics ich as family, plenty, and harmony. The artwork addressed the effects of the nuclear legacy in New Mexico without making direct references to the nuclear testing at White Sands in 1945, the Los Alamos laboratories (the successors to the Manhattan project), or the uranium mining industry. Tom Powell says that when selecting the work to send to Japan, he chose "images that related stories about ourselves, about who we really are today as Americans and New Mexicans. The artists are storytellers."

Nineteen Japanese artists and their spouses will arrive in New Mexico this summer on August 21, along with forty contemporary easel paintings from the Hiroshima Peace Art Association and the Nagasaki Exhibition Committee. The contributing artists are retired bureaucrats, professional artists, and working-class artists, and range from thirty to eighty years old. Nothnagle presents "The Golden Age of Mail Order Music," August 12 and 13 at Northeast Iowa Community Colleges in Peosta and in Calmar.

Two Chautauquas pitch their tents this summer-one in Mason City from July 29 through August 2 and another in Ottumwa from August 21 through 25. The first, "Winning the Peace: The War of Words in Cold War America," features portray als of Eleanor Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Winston Churchill, William Faulkner, and Joseph McCarthy. In Ottumwa the theme is "Behold Our New Century: Early TwentiethCentury Visions of America," and presents portrayals of Theodore Roosevelt, Andrew Carnegie, Charles Eastman, Jane Addams, and Booker T. Washington.


From studying the history of the Buffalo Soldiers to listening to cowboy poetry, teachers in Kansas can expand their knowledge of the Great Plains in a conference at the National Teachers Hall of Fame in Emporia, July 6 through 10. "Into the West: The Great Plains Experience" looks at Kansas communities and culture from the mid-nineteenth century through today. Workshops include topics such as how Kansas has been portrayed in the movies from The Wizard of Oz to "B" westerns, how economics and prairie culture shaped the architecture in the state, and how to forage the prairie for food and medicine.


"Brilliantly Beaded: Northeastern Native American Beadwork" runs through September 6 at the Hudson Museum in Orono.

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