Saturday, March 22, 2008
a call for peace
As a member of the Thunder Bay Peace coalition, and joining the World Against War week, I organized some events at our local feminist bookstore, The Northern Woman's Bookstore. The bookstore was also part of a local art initiative called Urban.Infill [art in the core] that a local art gallery, Definitely Superior, puts on to revitalize the downtown core of Port Arthur through art [on the DefSup site, scroll down to find our venue, illustrated with the photo art of our featured artist Katja Maki--my sister]. Because the timing of Art in the Core coincided with the commemoration of the invasion of Iraq, the events we planned mixed art with peace activism. The banner above I made in March 2003 from 1970s Iraqi art journals as a visual statement for a peace rally held at Lakehead University to say No to War! Well, 5 years later the war is still on, and the Americans are entrenching themselves on the soil of Iraq, building a $532 m. embassy compound of 104 acres with a swimming pool and its own water filtration plant--yet Iraqis have no clean water. So, my anti-war banner found a place today outside of the Northern Woman's Bookstore, billowing in the wind, catching the eyes of passersby.
We had a number of people speak about peace and war in Iraq and Palestine, from readings of poetry and the words of Ursula Franklin to discussions about what is happening in Iraq and Palestine today and the historical roots of the occupations. A poem by a young boy that personified the sadness of war was read by his sister and someone read a poem from poets against war. An Iraqi man spoke of his years in Iraq and the current suffering of his family. Jelena Psenicnik and Kathleen Baleja put on a dance performance specially choreographed for our gathering called "Moving Through Conflict". They began their performance with blood red sheets shrouding their bodies. It was a powerful artistic rendition of the dance of tensions and the desires for balance.
As part of Katja's "In Her Eye" art exhibit, she created the photo art above. This is a special art piece she made to commemorate women and war. She used a newspaper photo of an Iraqi woman, taken 5 years ago, who was crying in a hospital over the injuries sustained by her husband and son from US bombing. She doesn't know what happened to this women or her loved ones. But the woman's cries have come calling to her, and her pain won't leave her alone. She feels her anguish travel across the waters, and sees her tears swell up on the shores of Lake Superior. Today, we were all witness to her pain, that 5 years later, has not ended.