In her monograph, Regarding the Pain of Others, Susan Sontag speaks of the importance of letting “atrocious images haunt us. Even if they are only tokens, and cannot possibly encompass most of the reality to which they refer, they still perform a vital function. The images say: this is what human beings are capable of doing....Don’t forget. (2003, p. 115)” 

Deir Yassin (1948), Kafr Qasem (1956), Tel al-Zaatar (1976),  Sabra and Shatila (1982), Jenin (2002), and Gaza (2006) have all been rendered  in art—whether sculpture, drawing, silkscreen, or tapestry.  The bloody events of conflict have been evoked so they will reenter human awareness—both memorializing the suffering and rendering them human.  My study will draw from the work of Palestinian (Halaby and Sabaaneh), American (Morales and Halaby), and Iraqi (Azzawi) artists as they are calling for a memory of events that have been repressed from mass consciousness—art as both commemoration and public statement, art as a visual comment on history.  I will examine the themes evoked, the symbols employed, and characterizations established in the diverse depictions, considering whether these works might function, again following Sontag (p. 115), as images to embitter or as images to reconcile.

Together with Professors Nicgorski and Collins, I am applying for research support through the LARC Summer Research Community Program.  We are seeking collaborators working in related topics involving art (whether music, film, theatre, poetry, or others of the visual arts), War, Commemoration, and/or Social Justice.

Willamette University

Liberal Arts Research Collaborative

900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.

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