“Beyond Genocide” exhibit on display


The Waterloo Lutheran Seminary on campus is currently displaying an exhibit called “Beyond Genocide” featuring works by artist Amy Fagin.

The U.S. based artist has created 13 of what she has dubbed “illuminated manuscripts,” or manuscripts that are accompanied by interpretive artwork.

The works represent some of the most prominent and tragic instances of genocide and mass murder throughout history.

The main focus of the exhibit and Fagin’s works are the impact of genocide and mass human rights violations on various cultures.

Rather than depicting images of genocide or its effects globally, Fagin chose to “illuminate” the effects of genocide through a more interpretive and abstract approach to the artwork.

Illuminations included in the collection on display at Wilfrid Laurier include Afghanistan, Armenia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Ethiopia, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Iraq, North Korea and Namibia, to name a few.

The sheer volume of the list of nations that have been subject to the atrocities of mass murder and genocide alone show the importance of creating awareness about violence and honouring lives lost.

The exhibit also features illuminations of much older instances such as the Crusades and the Inquistion, effectively revealing that this is no new issue.

A professor in global studies at Laurier and the Balsillie School of International Affiairs, Rhoda Howard-Hassmann, said of the exhibit, “I think it’s important to have a visual and literary representation of genocide and massive human rights violations.”

“It shows respect for the culture of the people who have suffered, and for all the cultural losses to the world.”

The exhibit certainly proves to be enlightening, as viewers learn from one illumination regarding Cambodia, “Scholars now believe that between 2.2 and 2.5 million people lost their lives in less than four years, between one quarter and one third of the entire population of the country.

The fact that the vast majority of the victims were from the same ethnic and linguistic group as the perpetrators makes this terrible crime all the more unprecedented.”

According to the artist, “Each illumination begins with detailed research into the history of these cultures and civilizations and what led to the atrocities. Design of each composition demonstrates the exquisite alchemy of the illuminated manuscript with symbols and imagery representing the impact of the legacy of the genocide in question.”

In addition to the “Beyond Genocide” exhibit, which is on display from Sept. 19-23 at the seminary, Amy Fagin will host a lecture called “Beyond Genocide: Illuminating Mass Atrocity” on Sept. 21 at 5 pm.

Admission is free for all interested parties.

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