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AU Museum Summer Exhibits Open

By Rebecca Basu

Detail of statue

Detail of Melted Statue of Buddha (replica). Donated by Kokichi Takahashi. 41 cm x 54 cm.

Summer exhibits at the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center open June 13.  

In commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, AU Museum presents Hiroshima-Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Exhibition. The exhibit will showcase 25 artifacts collected from the debris of the bombings, six large folding screens that depict the horrors of the bombings, and a collection of drawings by Japanese children created two years after the war ended. 

The cornerstone of the exhibit, the folding screens, will be on display in Washington, D.C. for the first time. Beginning in 1950, husband-and-wife artists Iri and Toshi Maruki created a total of 15 screens over 32 years depicting the horrors of the twin bombings and other nuclear disasters of the 20th century.

In 1947, Arthur Powell Davies, a minister with All Souls Church Unitarian (Washington, D.C.), asked the children of the church's school to collect art supplies to donate to Honkawa Elementary School in Japan. As a gesture of gratitude for the supplies, the Honkawa students made drawings for the All Souls children that tell a story of peace and connection between the two countries

The exhibition organizers hope this thought-provoking exhibition deepens viewers' understanding of the devastation wrought by nuclear weapons and inspires peace. Exhibition sponsors include AU's Nuclear Studies Institute, Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum, Maruki Gallery, and All Souls Church Unitarian. The exhibit opens June 13 and closes Aug. 16.

Exhibits Opening June 13 and Closing July 26

Travels in the Imagination shows the work of Visvaldis Ziediņš, a Latvian artist who lived and worked during the Soviet era but was not discovered until 2009, two years after Ziediņš' death. 

The work changes the perception of the nature of Latvian art during the Soviet era, and refutes the commonly held idea that Latvia did not produce non-conformist art. Ziediņš resisted the formulaic Soviet realism mandated by Soviet officialdom, instead creating personal, poetic and playful work. On display are sculptures, installations, paintings and collages. Most of the works were fashioned using found objects.

Realism Transformed: John Winslow's Wild New World presents the first comprehensive survey of the later works of Washington artist John Winslow. Winslow, one of Washington's foremost realist painters, underwent a transformation as an artist in the 1980s. In his work, defined spaces became ambiguous, right angles became swooping curves, and once-static figures left gravity behind to dance gracefully and crazily through the air.  

Michael Gross: Abstraction features the vibrant paintings and monoprints of Washington artist, Michael Gross. According to curator Myrtis Bedolla, "Gross invites us into his world and it is easy to succumb to the magnetism of his acrylic paintings. His rhythmic brushstrokes, punctuated with mark-making and intentionally laid drippings of paint are hypnotic. Through spatial separation and planes of color, Gross achieves a dynamism and lyricism in the work that is enticing."  

The exhibit Outliers: Kurt Godwin and Betsy Packard is intended as a "sampler" of three decades' worth of work of two Washington artists, Betsy Packard and Kurt Godwin. Each artist has worked in a variety of media, from painting to quilting, from found-object sculptures to printmaking, all of which are featured in this show. Both Packard and Godwin practice a kind of speculative symbolism and what's most vital is their instinctive commitment to their own free imaginations, very much on display at AU Museum.