Written by Nancer Ballard; ed. assistance by Savannah Jackson.
“Women’s voices and actions, while often unheard and unseen, have been and will forever be instrumental in conflict resolution.” So opens the Curatorial Statement by Susan Janowsky for the multi-media art show, Peace in Her Time; Visionary Women Against War and Violence. Sponsored by Unbound Visual Arts, the show is currently on exhibit at the Boston Public Library Honan-Allston Branch Art Gallery.
The exhibition includes a diverse collection of paintings, fiber arts, sculpture, collage, printmaking, book arts, and assemblage. Art helps us to see, and to not forget, both the horrific moments and also unexpected acts of inspiration. A a group, the artworks express the multiple dimensions of women’s struggles against violence and toward wholeness and peace throughout history and across the globe. Like art itself, the exhibit is a wonderful example of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.
The artists were invited to submit artist statements along with their visual / sound works which the sponsor Unbound Visual Arts has collected in a bound volume available with the exhibit. Their statements and their art offer a window onto many values, concepts, and examples that characterize heroine journeys.
Valuing Relationships & Community Effort
Jean Askerkoff: For peace in our time, we must work together. Equality, kindness and respect for each other are needed to end divisiveness in our world.
Tsurn Mig Shmiklinski: Being a Woman, a minority woman, I face may obstacles as well as opportunities. It is hard to make it alone… the truth is that I don’t believe we have to.
Linda Clave: Women are beacons for nurturing spiritual values. Staying with our feminine souls brings forth a balancing force of equal magnitude to situations under duress. This allows for the understanding of the other with clarity. We are here to join each other and grow as humanity.
Empathy and Inclusiveness
Elizabeth Geers Loftis: The role of women in all facets of life is a topic I return to again and again. I am especially attracted to women from more rural, indigenous cultures.
Nancer Ballard: I originally wanted to do a piece on women and work because I was frustrated by hearing so many intelligent people assert that women had only begun to go to work during World War II. What about all the African Americans who have been working since this country was founded? What about the indentured servants who paid for their way to America with years of working? What about the Lowell Mill workers? Women throughout the world have played important roles in virtually every form of constructive peaceable work from antiquity to the present. The piece’s subtitle, Women in Labor, is a play on the concept of women forever giving birth creatively to the world on many levels.
Peg Ehrlinger: Intisar is from Syria. Her home and mosque are in rubble, her beloved country destroyed by the ongoing Civil War. Her son is a first responder in the midst of the devastation… In the midst of the chaos, Intisar assists others as she is able, praying for the day the Damascus Rose may bloom again. Her gentle smile makes me wonder, would we be kinder to others if we considered the pain they hide?
Combining Binaries into Wholeness
Alicia Dwyer: The armor is constructed over a body case of a pregnant woman. Among the decorative flowers adorning the dress tiny toy soldiers lie hidden in the petals. Blending fabric and metal together creates a juxtaposition between contrasting elements of fragility and strength inherent in nature, individuals, and society.
Heidi Lee: Sacred is she. Holy, is she not. Within the same entity, does both wrath, lust, pride exist even for a short while alongside kindness humility, and self-control
Making Do, Repurposing, and Living in Concert with One’s Environment
Mary Gillis: The cloth piece was intended initially as a banner for a local weekly peace vigil but then turned into a wall quilt, which traveled to several art exhibits and now hangs in a charter high school in Roxbury.
Nancer Ballard: I believe art is a very powerful form of non-capitalist value—it is life affirming, it can be experienced by anyone who has access to it, and it can fulfill unlimited purposes. You can destroy a piece of art, but not the impulse and need to make art.
Persistence; Focusing on the Journey rather than the Moment of Triumphant Achievement
Brenda Gael McSweeney: This photograph captures Habibou Ouédraogo, Women’s Leader in the village of Zimtenga Kongoussi Zone, Burkina Faso and Scholastique Kompaoré, National Coordinator of the UNESCO Project for Equal Access of Women and Girls to Education as they debate the challenges of gender injustice, including the subordination of women and girls and violence against them, and income inequality.
Affirming Life rather than Conquest
Diane Sheridan: It is impossible not to feel [inspired] by women carrying their words proudly, their signs of protest towards peace and justice and hopefully opening someone’s eyes and heart even the smallest bit.
Peace in Her Time provides a multi-layered demonstration that art and peace work– in whatever way you do it— are like driving a stake in the ground and declaring that there is hope in the future—even if what you are depicting or experiencing is terrible.
Peace in Her Time; Visionary Women Against War and Violence is on exhibit at the Boston Public Library, Honan-Allston Branch Art Gallery through April 29, 2019. To find out more about Unbound Visual Arts, click here. To get directions to the gallery, click here.