CULLOWHEE – The Fine Art Museum at Western Carolina University will present a spring exhibition titled “Remote Sites of War,” featuring more than 110 works by North Carolina-based artists Todd Drake, Skip Rohde and Christopher Sims.
The exhibition opens Thursday, April 10, and continues through Friday, May 30.
“Remote Sites of War” offers a first-person worldview of war that is quietly revealing and poses as many questions for people to consider as it does answers, said David J. Brown, Fine Art Museum director who also organized the exhibition.
“Ongoing armed conflicts involving the United States somewhere in the world seem to have little effect on us; we are carefully shielded from what really occurs,” Brown said. “In their own way, each of these artists delves into the peripheries of war and shares a core belief that all humans deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.”
All three artists will be present for the April 10 opening of the show and will be either speaking with or conducting workshops with students and faculty from the art, English, history, political science, and religion and philosophy departments as well as the Honors College. Brown described the interdisciplinary approach as one way “to break down the walls of the museum and provide meaningful intersections with the larger community on and off campus.”
A resident of Summerfield, Drake creates works of art aimed at a better understanding between people in the U.S. and other parts of the world. The U.S. Department of State asked Drake to help build bridges between Sunni and Shia Muslims in Bahrain and to empower women in Saudi Arabia. A college-level studio art instructor, he has authored and designed several books in collaboration with undocumented immigrants from Mexico into the United States. For his “Double Vision: Perspectives from Palestine” series, he spent three weeks holding photography workshops with Palestinian youth who have grown up with a narrative that Drake claims he can never fully know.
Rohde, of Asheville, spent 20 years in the U.S. Navy before going back to school and receiving an art degree. His work, guided by his interest in the “consequences of war,” landed him several assignments in Iraq and Afghanistan working as a consultant for the U.S. Department of State to help the Afghan people “run their own affairs and manage their own districts,” he said. Rohde began sketching the portraits of a variety of Afghan people, from elected officials to local villagers and bazaar owners, using whatever materials were available – scrap pieces of paper, pencils, graphite, pen and ink. The result is a series called “Faces of Afghanistan.”
Sims, a resident of Efland, teaches at Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies and spent seven years as photo archivist at the U.S. Holocaust Museum. While there, he became interested in “the idea of making war photographs that weren’t about the violence or spectacle or the things that make people turn away from most war photographs.” In “Theater of War: The Pretend Villages of Iraq and Afghanistan,” he photographed the training grounds of U.S. Army bases in the deep forests of North Carolina and Louisiana and the deserts of California. These pretend villages serve as “a strange and poignant way station for people heading off to war or those that have fled it,” he said.
Museum hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Mondays through Wednesdays, and Fridays; and 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Thursdays. Admission is free.
Info: WCU Fine Art Museum (828) 227-3591 or visit fineartmuseum.wcu.edu