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Human Faces of War ---Art Show
Opens Saturday, April 30, 1-5pm
Other dates: Sunday, May 1, 1--5pm;
1st Thursday May 5, 5--8pm;
Saturday and Sunday, May 7--8, 1--5pm
Location: The Tribe Gallery
510 NW Glisan
For more information
503 736 9136 503 235 3455

Opening on the 30th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War, April 30,2005, the Human Faces of War, a locally sponsored art project, brings together artists and soldiers' families in expressing their experiences of war.
Is grief the same, regardless of whether or not you support the war that took your child's life? If an artist were to create an artistic tribute to your child, a fallen soldier, what would it look like? If your grief led to action against the war, what stories would you tell?

These are among the questions considered in the Human Faces of War, a locally sponsored project that brings together artists and soldiers' families in expressing their experiences of war. In an interactive exhibit, stories contributed by families across the country will be displayed along with the artists' works and written responses by artists. The exhibit gives a glimpse of memories, soldiers' dreams and families whose grief has turned to activism.

Many of the families involved are part of an organization called "Gold Star Families for Peace." Each has received the "gold star" awarded to families when a loved one has died in war. Gold Star Families for Peace have organized to "prevent other families from the pain they are feeling" as the result of their losses. "We are a group that prays daily for no new members," says Annette Pritchard of Oregon City. Her 19-year-old nephew William Ramirez was killed in Iraq on February 11, 2004.

Pritchard, along with other Gold Star Families for Peace will be present at the Human Faces of War opening event on Saturday, April 30th and Sunday, May 1, 1-5pm (The exhibit can also be viewed, 1st Thursday, May 5, 5-8pm; Saturday and Sunday, May 7-8, 1-5pm). The families speak with a sense of urgency. Pritchard wishes that every American "could take just a moment to imagine what it would be like to be Gold Star Family. Think with love and pride of that young relative filled with life and potential... Bury that young person and all their hopes and dreams. Continue living each waking and dreaming moment with that ache that never eases, that no flag, medals or military pomp can gloss over. How many more mothers will have to mourn their children before we stand up to demand an end to the waste?"

Cindy Sheehan, whose son was killed in action a little over a year ago, writes about an interview she was supposed to have had with Larry King: "One of the questions I was going to be asked was: Do I think my son's sacrifice was 'worth it'?... I would have asked Larry King if he would want to sacrifice his children for sham elections in Iraq... No it wasn't worth it."

Cindy Sheehan's stories and memories brought this response from artist Janine Bradley, whose Human Faces of War artwork portrays Sheehan's son, Casey. "This piece is watercolor on Upo paper. Upo resists the paint, it's not absorbed," Bradley writes. "I chose this medium because of the resistance I felt. I did not want to be painting this young man's face. He is a man who died for my country, yet I would not have sent him there. I honor this man who bravely went where politicians surely fear to tread. As a mother, I weep for him, his family and our country... "

The Human Face of War Project was conceived by a small interfaith group of Portland residents. The goals for the project included giving the community a chance to reflect on the war in a different way, and to pay tribute to the military families speaking out on the war by providing public space for their stories and thoughts. About 20 local artists are involved in painting the portraits of 10 families. The families represented also include conscientious objectors and an Iraqi family.

Given the sensitivity of the issue of war deaths the show has historical significance. This sensitivity was witnessed in last year's Nightline controversy about reading the names of soldiers killed, and in the recent Oregonian discussion on whether or not to publish stories of Oregon's war dead on the front page (Public Editor, 3-20-05). Viewed from this perspective, the work of the Gold Star Families for Peace could be likened to the work of the Mothers of the Plaza de Cinco de Mayo in Argentina and the mothers in Chile who worked for years to bring to light the anguish and cost of the civil unrest in those countries.

Sponsors include: 1st Unitarian Church Peace Action Committee; Portland Mennonite Peace, Justice and Environment Committee; Military Families Speak Out; Living Earth Gatherings and others.

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phone: phone: 503 235 3455