Artists’ focus: Afghan civilians

A traveling collection of artwork meant to memorialize civilian casualties in the 10 years since the

A traveling collection of artwork meant to memorialize civilian casualties in the 10 years since the beginning of the war in Afghanistan will be featured at seven Capital Region venues throughout the coming weeks.

The exhibit’s national tour — called “Windows and Mirrors: Reflections on the War in Afghanistan” — began its regional opening in Albany on Wednesday in the Legislative Office Building. It is being sponsored locally by the Capital District Women Against War, who believe women can develop alternatives to violence.

“It is our hope that as those in the region view the powerful images here, the art will provide windows that allow us to begin to grasp the enormity of the human cost of this endless war,” said organizer Maureen Aumand.

The exhibit was an initiative by the Quaker organization, American Friends Service Committee, which put out a call to artists in 2009 to create pieces that reflected the human cost of war, especially on the innocent. Within the year, more than 40 artists had contributed murals.

The local exhibit will feature a selection of 25 of the murals, including one by Woodstock artist Christine Moss. At some points the exhibit will be divided and appear at two locations at the same time.

At the event on Wednesday, 50 of the group’s members dressed in black to mourn those lost and stand together “in solidarity for peace.”

At a glance

A look at where the traveling exhibit will be:

Oct. 13–20: Skidmore College in the Wilson Memorial Chapel from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

Oct. 14–19: Albany International Gallery at Proctors in Schenectady 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.

Oct. 24–28: Russell Sage College in Troy at the Schacht Fine Arts Center from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 5 to 9 p.m. on Friday.

Oct. 29–Nov. 11: The College of Saint Rose in Albany at the Hubbard Interfaith Sanctuary from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays and 1 to 5 p.m. weekends.

Oct. 31–Nov. 10: Union College in Schenectady on the second floor of the Social Sciences building 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.

Over the years, the group has raised nearly $12,000 for the Afghan Project, an organization that works to bring clean drinking water and education to Afghan villages. Last year enough money was raised to install a well in a village of 6,000 people south of Kabul and an educational center was built to allow children to begin elementary school and for women to learn a trade.

“We have great hope for this village as a model, and we hope to influence policymakers to redirect U.S. taxes,” said photojournalist Connie Frisbee Houde, who has visited Afghanistan four times in the last 10 years. “It takes $1 million a year to employ a soldier and instead this could be spent for projects like this well.”

According to Leila Zand, who works with the nonprofit interfaith peace organization, Fellowship of Reconciliation, in Afghanistan, “Evidence shows there is no improvement in Afghan lives, security or comfort under NATO occupation than that of Taliban rule.”

“The message from Afghanistan is clear, enough is enough,” Zand said. “Keeping in mind that the average life expectancy is 42 years in Afghanistan, almost every single Afghan has experienced violence and war. They are fed up with this way of life and they want to see change for themselves and for their children.”

The 25 murals will be in the Capital Region through Nov. 11. At some venues, lectures, discussions and seminars will accompany the exhibit.

While the exhibit travels the Capital Region, the local Women Against War group will be petitioning and asking for volunteers to join the group in its work toward peace.

The group would like to see all U.S. troops stationed in Afghanistan return home by the end of this year, to immediately stop military activities that harm civilians, a commitment to peace negotiations, and for the government to address the needs of Afghans, including clean water, health care and education.

Categories: Schenectady County

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