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Warchild Art Exhibit Sheds Light on Turmoil in Burma

by Jaime Garispe '10

From February 9 to February 19, APU hosted Warchild, an exhibit showcasing artwork from children affected by the war in Burma, in the Heritage Art Gallery. The exhibit was curated by senior art students Molly Gardner and Caroline Craner, APU alumnus Spencer Kerrigan, and Partners Relief & Development, an organization dedicated to aiding those suffering in Burma.

"Artists are powerful culture makers," said Exhibitions Director Gary James Daichendt, Ed.D. "Molly and Caroline demonstrated how they can make a difference and change the world through successful design. Powerful and compassionate—the exhibit was a compelling educational opportunity."

A nation under militant regime since 1962, Burma has had significant portions of its population forced into internally displaced person (IDP) camps. Warchild contained pieces produced as "art therapy" by members of such camps. Partners Relief & Development brought artists into the camps to teach two dozen children and young adults to use acrylic paint to transfer their life experiences onto a piece of paper. The artwork reflects the children’s perception of war and violence, and is presented in a frame with a picture and short biography of the young artist on the right.

"It is interesting that most of the children are smiling in their picture even though they've been through so much," said Megan Keeney, a freshman history major. Curator Caroline Craner explained the reason behind the exhibition’s impact. "It was so powerful because the people shared their stories, rather than an organization."

According to Partners Relief & Development, roughly 3,500 Burma homes have been burned down by soldiers in the Burma Army and millions have been driven into forced labor since 1997. "It is sad to see such a beautiful place and its people being ripped apart by this tragedy," said junior political science major Sean Webb.

Individuals impacted by the exhibit can respond through Partners Relief & Development to bring aid to those suffering by texting “Burma” to 20222. Five dollars will be charged to your next cell phone bill. For information on additional ways to contribute to the aid efforts, visit www.partnersworld.org/.