Students learn about peace through A-bomb survivors’ artwork
Students at Ryerson University are learning about the horrifying effects of the atom bomb through a new digital exhibition that shares paintings and drawings by survivors of the 1945 attack on Hiroshima. The project is called Hiroshima Seen: Survivors picture the nuclear age.
Images are “beautifully horrific”
Jackie Zhang, a Ryerson student studying creative industries, told me that he thought that the images have a gravity toward them, and are “beautifully horrific” in their own way. You can watch our interview on this blog post and on YouTube.
Catherine Dias told me that she has always worked for social justice. “When choosing which drawings to include in the feed, I reflected on the artwork and the tremendous destruction caused by nuclear weapons,” said Dias, a Ryerson student who lead the social media campaign using Instagram.
Canadians are often not taught our own history. – Catherine Dias
Inspiration for peace work
The students also found heroism in the survivor’s accounts of that terrible day; August 6, 1945. “Although it is challenging to face depictions of such devastation and inequity, the stories also reinforce our incredible capacity for endurance, resilience, and compassion,” said student Amber Balloi, who designed the website.
Working on the project has empowered the students to work for the abolition of nuclear weapons. “As an emerging creative worker I have been inspired to seek opportunities to further apply my skills to humanitarian/environmental efforts in the future,” added Balloi.
How we understand the past shapes our present and future. – Amber Balloi
The project is under the direction of Katy McCormick, Associate Professor and Director of the Graduate Program in Documentary Media at Ryerson University. In her curatorial statement, she wrote,
Drawings by survivors show what no documentary photograph ever can. Straight from the mind’s eye, they express the power of memory, trace, and embodied witnessing. They are difficult to look at and impossible to forget. Never again! they scream, they whisper, they cry. No More Hiroshima’s. No More Nagasaki’s.
Hiroshima Seen: Survivors picture the nuclear age is co-sponsored by Hiroshima Nagasaki Day Coalition (HNDC) and Artspace Gallery. Images are courtesy of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.