The Brand Library Art Gallery & Art Center in Glendale, California is currently hosting an exhibit entitled Man’s Inhumanity to Man: Journey out of Darkness. To quote Mark Vallen, an excellent blogger and one of the forty-four artists taking part, the exhibit “examines human rights violations that have occurred around the globe – the 1915 Armenian genocide, the Jewish Holocaust, repression in Central America, current atrocities in Darfur, and more.”
Looking through the various pieces on the website brought to mind my experiences working for Amnesty International when I lived in Ireland in the late 90s. A number of people who had suffered human rights abuses in other countries were working out of the offices, and a great many were talented artists -painters, musicians, dancers and writers. At Christmastime, some offered their services and painted pieces that were later sold in the Amnesty store; others opened their homes to invite us to experience the joy of their culture. It was about sharing their lives as much as it was about using art -and others’ experience of their art -to heal their wounds.
As the co-curator of the Glendale exhibit says, “Art is a powerful agent in society with the ability to awaken our consciousness, transform our minds, and ignite a desire to bring about change… this exhibition aims to do all of these things.” Get thee to Glendale if you can.
Painting: Project 1915, by Sophia Gasparian.