28 October - 19 December 2004


THE PAIN OF WAR — an exhibition of over 60 prints, photographs, videos, and other media images that address the theme of suffering associated with war — will open at the Mead Art Museum on Thursday, October 28th, with a reception at 4:30 p.m. This timely show has been organized by Carol Solomon Kiefer , Curator of European Art, with the assistance of Erin Sullivan, UMass Graduate Intern. It will run through December 19, 2004.

THE PAIN OF WAR provokes viewers to ask: Why are we so captivated by images of pain and suffering? Does their incessant presence in our media-saturated world inure us to their awfulness? How do we respond to them emotionally, psychologically, intellectually, and politically? What issues of truth, sensationalism, exploitation, aesthetics, history, and memory do such images raise? Similarly preoccupied, Susan Sontag writes in her recent book, Regarding the Pain of Others, 2003: “One can feel obliged to look at photographs that record great cruelties and crimes. One should feel obliged to think about what it means to look at them, about the capacity to actually assimilate what they show.”

With works from the permanent collection of the Mead Art Museum and important loans, THE PAIN OF WAR will present images from the 17th century to the present day, documenting atrocities from the Thirty Years War, the Napoleonic Wars, the Crimean War, the First and Second World Wars, the Holocaust, the Vietnam War, and more recent conflicts such as September 11, 2001 and the war in Iraq. Highlights will include prints by Jacques Callot, Francisco Goya, Edouard Manet, George Bellows, Käthe Kollwitz, Otto Dix, Pablo Picasso, Richard Serra, and Dinos and Jake Chapman; photographs by Robert Capa, W. Eugene Smith, Lee Miller, Larry Burrows, Joel Meyerowitz, James Nachtwey, and Sebastião Salgado; and films by Mona Hatoum and Richard Levine.

Members of the Amherst faculty have written responses to the exhibited works; the responses will accompany the show.

Several academic departments at Amherst College are co-sponsoring related programs in conjunction with the exhibition. These include lectures, gallery talks, films, and panel discussions. Kim Phuc, the subject of the famous 1972 Vietnam photograph of the young girl burned by napalm as she runs from her village, and today a UNESCO Ambassador of Goodwill, will speak on Thursday, November 4 at 7:00 p.m. in Stirn Auditorium.

On Sunday, November 7, there will be a panel discussion, “Facing the Pain of War,” with first person accounts about the effect of past wars and the current war in Iraq on military personnel, their families, and American society. This will take place in Converse Hall from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.

Noted psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton, Lecturer in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School , will speak on “American Survivors: Vietnam and Iraq” on Tuesday, November 9 at 8:00 p.m. in Stirn Auditorium.

On Thursday, November 11 Amherst professors Robert Bezucha (History), Lawrence Douglas (Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought), Heidi Gilpin (German), and Margaret Hunt (History) will participate in a panel discussion of THE PAIN OF WAR at 4:30 p.m. in Stirn Auditorium.

A related exhibition, The Way of Sacrifice: Images and Accounts of War in Amherst's Archives and Special Collections, curated by Daria D'Arienzo, Head of Archives and Special Collections, will be on view at Frost Library from October 28 to December 19.

Viewers should be advised that THE PAIN OF WAR contains graphic images. It is not intended for children. The Mead Art Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Thursday evenings until 9:00 p. m. More information is available on the museum's Website at www.amherst.edu/~mead or by calling the Mead Art Museum at (413)542-2335.