A Group Art Exhibition at the International House – September 12-October 7,2008
PTSD and other effects of war are the subject of "Between Worlds", an art exhibit showing at the Chancellor’s International House in Davis from September 12th until October 7th. An Artists Reception will be held at the International House on Friday, September 12th, from 6- 8 p.m.
Phil Dynan, a past-instructor at the Davis Art Center and formerly an Artery member, is the lead artist in a show that features work by nine International artists. The group collaboration focuses on PTSD and the effects of war. It is a diverse presentation, including actual photos from Iraq interrogation centers taken by an embedded photojournalist; abstract paintings by Dynan and others; as well as work that falls into the spectrum between realistic and abstract.
The group includes Dr. Mario Verta, an Italian painter and medical doctor; Rita Leistner, Canadian photojournalist; Iraqi born M.J. Alhabeeb, a professor at the University of Massachusetts; Anastasia Nelson, a painter and graduate of UC, Davis; Scott Woodard, a painter from Texas; Terry Mahy, an illustrator from New Zealand; Ernie Velasco, painter from San Francisco; and Stephen Bennett, a renowned portrait painter with an International following.
Dynan’s paintings are large and generally abstract. "All Things Connected" refers to the death of 28-year-old Marla Ruzicka, killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq; while his latest painting "The End of Dreams" is a reference to his return to America from an overseas assignment and his subsequent treatment for PTSD.
"I couldn’t speak to all the effects of war, or even express them in a variety of terms. I’m limited in my expression, but in this show I have a lot of help. The other artists speak to a variety of issues in a variety of ways," Dynan explains.
"I wanted the viewer to be able to process the story in different ways and on different levels. Some people – myself included – can’t handle the reality very well. So there is a full range of realism to abstraction and items in between the two."
Dynan says the title "Between Worlds" reveals how he feels after overseas service. On one hand he says the experience was educational and exciting. But on the other hand, he claims that he has never "really returned" fully from his government service.
Rita Leistner brings a touch of realism to the exhibition with her first-hand photos taken in Iraq. Some are from Army interrogation centers, but others center on life for the women trapped in Iraqi mental hospitals and how the war has affected their lives.
"Without Force, Effect or Significance" by Texan Scott Woodard, is a counterpoint to Leistner’s interrogation photos and allows the viewer to switch to a level that is easier to look at that may be easier to process.
New Zealander Terry Mahy recently graduated from University. His final project was a presentation combining illustrations, interviews and a spoken presentation on the "Effects of War". This will be his first exhibit ever.
One of the most revealing paintings is a triptych painted by UC Davis graduate Anastasia Nelson, now an Art Gallery Director in Northern California. Her piece, a partial collaboration with Dynan, illustrates their vision of how a young person begins their military career; how it affects the mind and body during combat; and finally, how the young person appears after the military, in comparison to how they began.
M.J. Alhabeeb was born in Iraq in 1954. In addition to his career as a professor of resource economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, he has been practicing painting and classic calligraphy for more than 30 years. It is easy to see his connection to Iraq and his feelings for the people of his native country in three beautiful paintings presented as part of the exhibition.
Italian painter and medical doctor, Mario Verta presents "Young Americans", a view from abroad that Dynan chose because it also speaks to the tragic aftermath of war and how it affects our veterans and our society.
San Francisco painter (and baker) Ernie Velasco presents portraits that also show the effects of war. His approach is soft and accessible, giving the viewer more options for interpretation than a head-on confrontation with battle wounds would ordinarily provide.
New York portrait painter, Stephen Bennett, who conducts painting workshops world-wide for the non-profit group "Faces of the World", in a sense, wraps up the exhibit with paintings of veterans from past wars. His colorful and unusual paintings have become so popular that the United Nations is issuing 18 stamps with his portraits in 2009.