Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Priscilla Smith

War Art

I make War Art to provoke thought and emotion; to raise consciousness; and to galvanize change. For many years of my life, I marched for peace. But that is not enough. The artist must also create “images” which reflect the horror and dark side of war.

It is the description of what war looks like by the French playwright, Jean Giradoux, in his play Tiger at the Gates: “war is like the bottom of a baboon....when the baboon is up in a tree, with its hind end facing us: scarlet, scaly, glazed, framed in a clotted filthy wig.” It is the picture of the Vietnamese girl running down a road, her skin shredding from napalm. It is a newspaper’s response to a reader who asked “ it true that for every enemy soldier we kill in Vietnam, the United States kills six civilians?” . The newspaper replied “, this is not true. We only kill four civilians for every soldier we kill.” These are some of the images which will hopefully galvanize people to say “no more more war.”

The processes and materials I use are designed to generate discomfort, sadness, disgust, and shock on the part of the viewer. I use images such as crosses with dead soldiers’ helmets perched on them, bodies torn apart, or burning buildings falling down. I use large overpowering images such as a dead soldier’s coffin, a menacing airplane, or an assault rifle. I intentionally use discordant colors. I use beautiful colors to create an awkward juxtaposition with a deadly weapon.

In making art about War, I am witnessing to my great respect for the soldiers who are sent off to fight. I do not respect the leaders who make the decisions to go to war -- the leaders who unthinkingly assume the conflict is between total good and total evil. The leaders, who through distortions and coercion, move the masses from believing a war is unnecessary to converts believing in a “just” war. The leaders who seek only more wealth and power.


Priscilla Smith began her art career working in batik during the 1970’s. For the next twenty years, she put her fiber arts career on hold to pursue a career as a Corporate Lawyer. Smith has won several awards for her art quilts and, in 2010, sixteen of her art quilts were featured in a solo show on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. In her conviction of the importance of raising consciousness about the impacts of war on human-kind, her recent work focuses on War Art. Her works have been featured in National Juried Exhibitions including One Passion, Many Voices in New Bedford, Massachusetts, Twelve Voices From One in San Antonio, Texas, and the Northeast Contemporary Fiber Exhibition in Rochester, New York, where she was awarded the Juror’s Choice Award.

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