Windows and Mirrors' exhibit brings images of Afghanistan war to UCC church in Washington, D.C.

Windows and Mirrors' exhibit brings images of Afghanistan war to UCC church in Washington, D.C.

March 01, 2012
Written by Staff Reports

Comprising more than 45 large-scale paintings that memorialize Afghan civilian casualties, "Windows and Mirrors: Reflections on the War in Afghanistan" is a traveling mural exhibit on display at First Congregational UCC in Washington, D.C., March 1-22, 2012.

The exhibit is based on images collected by Zahir Wahab, a professor at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Ore., who asked Afghans high school students to draw the images from their daily reality.

"This exhibit is a call for us to open our eyes to the pain, destruction, and also the hope that this decade-long war has created," said Michael Neuroth, policy advocate on international issues in the UCC's Justice and Witness Ministries office in Washington, D.C.

The exhibit offers an open invitation to reflect upon the impact of the war –– now the longest in U.S. history –– on a civilian population caught in the crossfire.

In 2009, the American Friends Service Committee put out a nationwide call to artists through the Chicago Public Art Group and the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, seeking contributions for a traveling memorial to Afghan civilians who have died in the war. Within a few months, more than 40 muralists had donated their talents, designing and painting individual murals on sheets of acrylic cloth.

"When I learned about the exhibit and saw some of the powerful images it contained, I felt strongly that the faith community needed to find a way to bring it to Washington, D.C.," said Neuroth. "I have been grateful to work with our own First Congregational UCC, which was willing to host the exhibit in its newly dedicated building."

Drawings by Afghan students in Kabul, collected in June 2010, provide an up-close look at life in a war zone. At more than 900 square feet, the mural is an oversized statement on the human cost of war. It is not the voice of one person, but that of an engaged artistic community. The artists' collective voice speaks on both intellectual and emotional levels.  

Because of its high demand, the mural has inspired a community exhibit with a selection of 25 installations from the original. Those murals are smaller in size but remain large in scope.

 "I wish we could send one of the murals to each of our churches as a reminder that whatever one thinks about war and its justification, whenever our nation is at war, we must be vigilant in calling for peace, and conscious of the real cost of war both here and abroad," said Neuroth. "I think this exhibit brings the invisible struggle of the Afghan people living amidst war into our consciousness in a powerful and deep way as only art can."


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