Genocide’s Consequences Made Real with Art

GLENDALE (Glendale News Pres)–Genocide is not a thing of the past and a new art exhibit at the Brand Library aims to show visitors the savage quality of mass killings that persist around the globe, organizers said.

The exhibit, more than 70 works by 44 artists, held its opening reception Saturday to a packed house of visitors who were frequently taken back by the imagery and symbolism of the pieces.

Some works incorporated startling images of genocide, others were more abstract, incorporating themes of struggle, suffering or disregard for the value of human life, artists said.

“It’s amazing,” said Glendale resident Layla Bettar, while browsing the gallery. “It’s hard to believe that someone would do this kind of torture.”

The show, organized by the Arts and Culture Commission and called “Man’s Inhumanity to Man,” is meant to use art to illustrate to visitors that genocide is real and has harsh effects, even if it seems to occur in distant parts of the world, curator Ramela Abbamontian said.

“It uses the power of art to reach people, to wake them up, to instill a desire to create change,” Abbamontian said.

While art related to the Armenian Genocide is prominent in the exhibit, works from artists of various backgrounds were on display and all of them were commentaries on the atrocious impacts of systematic killings, like those currently occurring in Darfur, Sudan, artists said.

“This is not only about genocide, it’s about atrocity,” said Ripsime Marashian, the city’s cultural affairs coordinator.

Japanese artist Sumi Foley’s hand-stitched image, made on previously discarded kimono fabric and titled, “Sudden Spring Wind,” depicted soldiers blowing away in the wind, like the petals of a cherry blossom tree.

The piece showed how easily lives could be lost in violence, a message that may not be as powerful in another medium of expression, like writing or speech, she said.

“It’s very important to remember what happened to human beings,” she said of the value of the exhibit.

Foley’s piece, along with others throughout the gallery, will confront visitors with the harsh realities behind violence, said Armenian artist Samvel Hambardzumyan, whose ceramic work called “Echo” was a reminder of the voices of ancestors lost to mass killings.

“It’s not just about genocide, it’s about inhumanity,” he said of the showcase.

A black-and-white photograph of an old man placed above a handwritten narrative that detailed a childhood experience during the Armenian Genocide, resonated with at least two visitors.

The account of young boys being stabbed by Turkish soldiers was startling, said West Los Angeles residents Eileen Joyce and Jeff Braucher.

“It’s pretty powerful,” Joyce said.

The exhibit will be open daily until May 8 and the commission will host two special events for gallery visitors, an evening of music and poetry April 15 and a set of discussions with the artists and curator April 18.

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