Showing at UNR March 12-May 4
What began as a writing project for Western Nevada College creative writing students in 2009 morphed into a photo and poetry exhibit, “Always Lost: A Meditation on War,” that tours communities and colleges around the nation.
Now, the multimedia exhibit, which pays tribute to the more than 6,300 service members who have died in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, returns to Northern Nevada March 12-May 4 at the University of Nevada, Reno’s Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center.
U.S. Army veteran Brian Turner, whose work was an inspiration for WNC writing students to begin the project, will deliver a poetry reading at an opening reception for the exhibit at 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 13, in the Wells Fargo Auditorium on the UNR campus. A reception and book signing will follow at 7 p.m. at the Whittemore Gallery. Admission is free.
“It’s so meaningful to us that one of our veterans who inspired us as we created the exhibit is coming back to speak at home. It just feels right,” said Marilee Swirczek, a professor of English at WNC, whose students set the exhibit in motion with their collective writing efforts.
“We were impressed with (Brian) because he said, ‘I may not be a very good soldier, but I’m a very good witness,’ and that stuck in our heads.”
The project began in 2009 as WNC creative writing and sociology students directed by Swirczek began reporting the human impact that the wars were having on American soldiers and their families. Swirczek and WNC Sociology Professor Don Carlson organized the project after Carlson had been moved by the New York Times’ roster of the dead, which stood at 4,000 at the time, calling it “the most impersonal war” in history.
Along with students’ poetry and prose, a photograph of each solider who has sacrificed their life for their country is part of the art exhibit. WNC students have committed themselves to continuing to update the photos as the conflicts continue. The exhibit also includes photos from 2004 Pulitzer Prize winners Cheryl Diaz Meyer and David Leeson (courtesy of the Dallas Morning News).
The class project quickly evolved into an art exhibit at WNC in the spring of 2009, and beginning in 2010, there was a demand for it at college campuses and universities around the country. The exhibit has already appeared at eight campuses of the University of Wisconsin.
The guest book comments from these tours have revealed some touching responses, according to Swirczek, including:
“If only this were a memorial … If only war was but a memory … I hope this exhibit becomes a book so the message can reach further into the world.”
“From teardrop to teardrop no words can fill the horrific sorrow and emptiness inside as I read the poems and look at the photos. The names all the names …”
“What an eye-opening, heart-gripping tribute sure to become one of our national treasures. Thank you.”
For reception information, phone 775-784-4884. For exhibit information, phone 775-682-5665 or go to www.knowledgecenter.unr.edu.
Press Release: March 8, 2012
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