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Afghan Images Stir Kansas Citians

Afghan Images Stir Kansas Citians

Published: November 16, 2011
Mike Ferner of Vets for Peace at WAM in KC 11-13-11

Mike Ferner, interim director of Veterans for Peace, speaks at AFSC's Windows and Mirrors opening reception in Kansas City. Ferner said the images from the Afghanistan War reminded him of buses and planes carrying wounded soldiers home from the war in Vietnam. For a slideshow from the reception, please click here.

Photo: AFSC / Jon Krieg

By Jon Krieg, AFSC Senior Administrative Associate

Talk with people at a recent reception marking the opening of AFSC’s Windows and Mirrors Exhibit in Kansas City and you hear reactions like powerful and intense, painful and hopeful.

Listen a little more, and you realize that everyone views the Afghanistan war images somewhat differently.

One young person told me she’s unemployed and came to the exhibit, held at the Central Kansas City Public Library, because she’s eager to keep learning. “Coming from a quasi-military family, you always hear the good stuff about war,” she said. “Coming to this exhibit is a good way to expand my experiences and get a different perspective.”

Although she’s hesitant to condemn the Afghanistan War because her cousin is serving in it, she said Windows and Mirrors gave her a different perspective. “It’s something for me to go home and do some more research on and draw some more conclusions.”

Another person, who identified himself as a homeless artist, spoke eloquently about the beautiful and tragic elements of the murals. “The colors of some of the murals grab you,” he said. “You can feel their texture and lighting.” He said the exhibit confirmed his critical thoughts about the war. “The things that fuel this war haven’t changed since the beginning of time. It’s one of those tragedies we have to live with.”

To Mike Murphy, an AFSC volunteer and committee member, Windows and Mirrors shows that, “Horror, humanity and courage can’t be conveyed in three-word bumper stickers.” He said he was especially moved by a mural depicting the deaths of those Afghans guilty of the “crime” of going to a wedding.

For Ira Harritt, AFSC Kansas City Program Coordinator, the ultimate goal of the exhibit is to make the war visible and to move people to action to end the war. “We’re always challenged when governments resort to war,” he said. “We need to find another way. I firmly believe we can – it’s within us – but we need to demand it of our country.”

New murals created by Kansas City youth along with youth work in the traveling exhibit will open at another library next week. More speakers, including Peter Lems, Kathy Kelly and Suraya Sadeed, will augment the exhibit during its Kansas City stay.