Billboards Shine Light on 75th Atomic Bombing Anniversary and WC’s Peace Symposium

September 8, 2020
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Artist Calls Images ‘Advertisements for Peace!’

Thirteen unique billboards — “advertisements for peace” — dot roadways in southwest Ohio this month as a means for promoting Wilmington College’s Westheimer Peace Symposium and the annual event’s 2020 focus on the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Japan.

PICTURED: Two of the 13 unique billboards are pictured. Both of these were created by UNC Art Professor elin o’Hara slavick.

The 30th edition of the College’s signature program will be a virtual symposium Oct. 1 and 2 with the theme, “Peace and the Nature of War: The Nuclear Threat. Past, Present and Future.” See the full schedule of events commemorating the atomic bombings, along with registration information, at: <www.wilmington.edu/westheimer/>.

Event coordinator Dr. Tanya Maus, director of the Peace Resource and Quaker Heritage centers at WC, said the 75th anniversary is an important milestone to recognize. Indeed, the world has gone three quarters of a century since last using nuclear weapons, yet the grave threat continues to exist.

“We hope to draw attention to this important anniversary and that we at Wilmington College hope that nuclear weapons will never be used again,” she said. Also,  in light of the combination of College’s core values of peace and social justice, the upcoming symposium amidst the COVOD-19 pandemic, the November national elections and concerns about equal justice under the law, “We don’t want this anniversary to be entirely lost.”Children Singing Billboard

The billboards are located at various locations in Clinton, Highland, Fayette, Clermont, Brown and Adams counties — a significant part of the region from which WC draws its students. The outdoor advertisements can be found near Wilmington, Sabina, Washington Court House, Jeffersonville, Blanchester, New Vienna, Hillsboro, Williamsburg, Sardinia, Peebles and Greenfield. See the map at: <www.wilmington.edu/wps-billboards >.

They include archival images regarding the atomic bombings that were curated by the PRC’s Barbara Reynolds Memorial Archives while some feature original artwork by multidisciplinary artist elin o’Hara slavick, a professor of art at the University of North Carolina. She is internationally known for creating art about Hiroshima and Nagasaki from the perspective of eliminating all war.

The artist said viewing the photographs inside the Peace Resource Center inspired her works, especially a military one stating, “Peace is our profession.” Initially, o’Hara slavick had planned to curate an exhibition at the PRC, but the pandemic changed those plans to feature outdoor billboards.

“I love the fact that even in a pandemic, people drive and will see these billboards that promote peace, remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the peace symposium,” she said. “I hope the billboards provide spaces of respite and pause in our stressful and violent times. Advertisements for peace!”

Indeed, Maus feels the billboards and virtual symposium can reach new audiences that previously might not have been cognizant of Wilmington College’s historic championing of peace.

“While we are aware that in-person events have the strong potential to build community, it is also exciting to imagine the possibilities for a virtual symposium,” she added. “It may reach individuals all over the world, leading to a new awareness of the nuclear threat and also an awareness of Wilmington College as an institution that is dedicated to the pursuit of peace and justice.”

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