Feature Articles

April 2014

Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, NC, Offers Exhibition Focused on War

Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, NC, will present Remote Sites of War, featuring more than 110 works by North Carolina-based artists Todd Drake, Skip Rohde and Christopher Sims, on view from Apr. 10 through May 30, 2014.

The exhibition offers a first-person world view of war that is quietly revealing and poses as many questions for people to consider as it does answers, said David J. Brown, Fine Art Museum director who also organized the exhibition.

“Ongoing armed conflicts involving the United States somewhere in the world seem to have little effect on us; we are carefully shielded from what really occurs,” Brown said. “In their own way, each of these artists delves into the peripheries of war and shares a core belief that all humans deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.”

All three artists will be present for the Apr. 10 opening of the show and will be either speaking with or conducting workshops with students and faculty from the art, English, history, political science, and religion and philosophy departments as well as the Honors College. Brown described the interdisciplinary approach as one way “to break down the walls of the museum and provide meaningful intersections with the larger community on and off campus.”

A resident of Summerfield, NC, Todd Drake creates works of art aimed at a better understanding between people in the US and other parts of the world. The US Department of State asked Drake to help build bridges between Sunni and Shia Muslims in Bahrain and to empower women in Saudi Arabia. A college-level studio art instructor, he has authored and designed several books in collaboration with undocumented immigrants from Mexico into the United States. For his “Double Vision: Perspectives from Palestine” series, he spent three weeks holding photography workshops with Palestinian youth who have grown up with a narrative that Drake claims he can never fully know.

Skip Rohde, of Asheville, NC, spent 20 years in the US Navy before going back to school and receiving an art degree. His work, guided by his interest in the “consequences of war,” landed him several assignments in Iraq and Afghanistan working as a consultant for the US Department of State to help the Afghan people “run their own affairs and manage their own districts,” he said. Rohde began sketching the portraits of a variety of Afghan people, from elected officials to local villagers and bazaar owners, using whatever materials were available – scrap pieces of paper, pencils, graphite, pen and ink. The result is a series called “Faces of Afghanistan.”

Christopher Sims, a resident of Efland, NC, teaches at Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies and spent seven years as photo archivist at the US Holocaust Museum. While there, he became interested in “the idea of making war photographs that weren’t about the violence or spectacle or the things that make people turn away from most war photographs.” In “Theater of War: The Pretend Villages of Iraq and Afghanistan,” he photographed the training grounds of US Army bases in the deep forests of North Carolina and Louisiana and the deserts of California. These pretend villages serve as “a strange and poignant way station for people heading off to war or those that have fled it,” he said.

For further information check our NC Institutional Gallery listings, call the Museum at 828/227-3591 or visit (www.fineartmuseum.wcu.edu).

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