Exhibit targets wars, how they ravage women
It seems most appropriate at this time in history for a group of fiber artists to focus on the brutality of armed conflict between countries or among factions within the same country.
Against this global backdrop, an exhibit titled “Atrocities: Women and War” will open next month at the Western Colorado Center for the Arts, 1803 N. Seventh St. Grand Valley Peace and Justice is a partner with the Art Quilt Association in this endeavor.
The exhibit of 19 pieces runs June 2–25 at the center, with an opening reception scheduled at 6:30 p.m. June 3.
Kathy Kelly, co-founder of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, will speak in conjunction with the exhibit at 7 p.m. June 15 at the Art Center.
The textiles to be displayed have a political anti-war theme, says Marla Ferguson of Palisade, exhibit chairwoman. The intention is to generate a positive force against the destruction depicted in their art.
“Everybody who created a piece for this show was changed in some way by the experience,” Ferguson says.
Her show assistant, Marge Fox of Grand Junction, says creating such dark pieces was a fearsome task. The word “quilt” itself summons cozy feelings, warmth and comfort.
“Using fiber art to depict war felt like a crime, which made it a good challenge,” she says.
The genesis for Fox’s entry, titled “Female Suicide Bomber,” came from her own resistance to the dichotomous term. She asked herself what it means that “a religious culture sacrifices its women, women who should be having babies that embody the survival of that culture.”
Fox thought of her 25-year-old daughter and tried to imagine “a life so painful, a future so bleak, a hatred so strong” that would justify in the young woman’s mind, in Fox’s mind or in her community’s mind, the loss of human potential.
As Fox counted beads to represent metal pellets in the making of her quilt, she had a frightening thought — somewhere in the world at that same instant, a family was loading ball bearings into an undergarment designed to eviscerate their sister or daughter or wife, killing her and all around her.
The realistic image of the burqa-clad bomber contrasts with Ferguson’s entry, “Stop the Madness,” which is rich in symbolism. Six shooters represent a woman’s ovaries as well as violence blasting into the uterus, the essence of being female. Horrors of war are written in the flow of blood: destruction, depression, fear, rape, death of a son.
While creating her entry titled “Once There Was Beauty,” Jean Roesler of Grand Junction says she was appalled to read that Viagra was being given to warlords to gain their favor.
Her fear and belief are that such actions will lead to even more evil against women. Raw, torn and burnt edges of fabric in Roesler’s quilt represent such feelings.
Fabric artist Kathy Pfeufer of Grand Junction depicts angry Palestinian women throwing rocks — the only weapons available to them — at Israelis whose housing developments they believe are encroaching on Palestine land.
Her quilt, titled “Peace Be With You” or “Palestinian Women Warriors,” is bordered on two sides by Palestinian flags.
Large Arabic letters proclaim “Peace Be With You,” a wish that Pfeufer says is counter to the Middle East, where peace never seems to be present.
When Grand Junction textile artist Nancy Dobson created her exhibit entry, tears came to her mind, if not her eyes — tears of sorrow and despair, tears of war.
They are shed by the women who are brutalized, raped and denied any sense of worth, and by those who lose children to land mines and terror, Dobson wrote in her artist statement.
She chose to create a replica of a vase that holds tears of the bereaved, which she titled “Lachrymatory: Tears Overflowing.”
Dobson explains that lachrymatories are small, narrow-necked vessels found in ancient Roman tombs. Tears supposedly were caught and kept in such vases.
Legend says “when the tears evaporate, the mourning process is over,” according to Dobson.
But will these tears ever evaporate, she asks, or continue to overflow their receptacles?
The 19 contributing artists are asking the public to step out of its comfort zone to view this “Atrocities” exhibit, as they stepped out of theirs to present the horrors of war through their medium of cloth.
As Fox says, surely “the human race can do better than this.”
Email Sherida.Warner@ gjsentinel.com.