How many ways need it be said?
The “Looking at the Human and Economic Costs of War through the Arts” exhibition on display through April 14 includes paintings, drawings, sculpture, photographs, poetry, dioramas and posters by war veterans, military family members and other concerned taxpayers, artists, writers, teachers and students about various aspects of wars’ costs.
Among the most memorable items is a carefully crafted prosthetic leg lent by a World War II veteran, Bob Levine, who lost his lower right leg from grenade wounds in 1944 in
“The Million Dollar Soldier,” another diorama made from a US Army camouflage uniform crafted for war in Afghanistan, vividly displays another side of the costs of the conflict in that part of the world. Pinned to the fashionably designed combat jacket are oversize price tags for the cost per soldier per year of keeping an army fighting for nearly a decade halfway around the world in equivalent dollar amounts to the tax bills to local residents for running the municipality and public schools of
The cost in lives in the war on terrorism is represented by a display of poetry and photos conveying former
Costs in torment to war survivors and family members is the subject of many of the art works. Nightmares are evoked from images torn from military actions around the globe. “A few years ago if I’d seen that piece I’d have run out of here,” poet Dayl Wise said of a mixed media painting by Ruth Bauer Neustadter of a precariously standing man rendered as a jumble of parts and bones. Wise read to a standing-room-only audience a pair of haunting poems—about losing his sturdy jungle boots when he was wounded in
"Open Wound," Combat Paper pulp painting made with military uniforms, by Eli Wright, US Army veteran, Iraq
Other work addressing the corrosive impact of post-traumatic stress on war survivors includes a raging display of Combat Paper artwork made from shredded military uniforms by
To convey a fuller view of this exhibition’s arresting visual impact, I created a Shutterfly photo album of the artwork and performers who appeared at a Costs of War cultural program on March 20. My poem on this topic is below.
Costs of War
in the millions—
from blasted cities,
full of ghastly graves
in the ruins, ditches, fields…
sowed with landmines,
booming blasts of doom
including traumatic stress
and birth defects
in hate-filled nations…
what a toxic residue,
billions still due