Student-Produced ‘Voyage of the Phoenix’ Exhibit on the Road Again

November 2, 2017
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University of Mount Union is Next Stop for Posters

The sailing vessel known as The Phoenix of Hiroshima may rest in a nautical graveyard somewhere, yet its story as a unique part of Cold War history and the international peace movement remains vital — thanks in part to Wilmington College students.

PICTURED: The Reynolds family is pictured aboard The Phoenix of Hiroshima in the mid-1950s.

The WC Peace Resource Center (PRC) poster exhibit, “The Voyage of the Phoenix: a Peace Odyssey,” will be displayed this month and in March at the University of Mount Union in Alliance. This follows exhibits at the PRC, Dayton International Peace Museum and in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

In 2015, four WC students under the supervision of Dr. Tanya Maus, director of the Peace Resource Center, assembled the exhibit highlighting PRC-founder Barbara Reynolds’ family’s global journey, between 1954 and 1958, that propelled them to anti-nuclear and peace activism.

The students —Maraya Wahl, now a senior, and juniors Hillary Mitchell, Jessica Fair and Ellyse Herr — focused on the 1958 peaceful protest by the family sailing into the Pacific nuclear testing zone to protest the use of nuclear weapons and the then unknown dangers of radiation on persons and the environment. It features original artifacts, photographs and manuscripts from the trip.

Following World War II, Reynolds’ husband, Earle, was a scientist with the U.S. Atomic Bombing Casualty Commission in Hiroshima who studied the impact of radiation on the child survivors of the August 1945 atomic bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

After the three-year study, the Reynolds family left Hiroshima to sail around the world in a 50-foot, 30-ton yacht, The Phoenix of Hiroshima. While traveling 54,360 nautical miles and stopping at 122 ports on the peace mission, they were transformed from curious seafarers to antinuclear peace activists.

Maus noted that, when a Mt. Union librarian/archivist visited the exhibit at the PRC last spring, “She was drawn to the posters and began to advocate for them to be displayed at Mt. Union.”

The March exhibit will take place alongside a UMU theater performance of Under Fire, which calls into question military violence. It also will coincide with a visit by 24 high school students from a Hiroshima high school. The university invited Maus to attend a panel discussion following the show and participate in classes attended by the Japanese students.

The Hiroshima school will receive a copy of the “Voyage of the Phoenix” posters, which will be exhibited in that city.

Maus expressed her pleasure with the exhibit’s continuing widespread appeal.

“When the students and I collaborated to create the ‘Voyage of the Phoenix’ exhibit, the students discussed how important it was to create an exhibit that was visually interesting and that young audiences would relate well to,” she said. “Viewers have been immediately captivated by the images and layout of the posters that dynamically reflect the message of the exhibit.”

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