Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Exhibit Shows Bosnia Through a New Lens

    Wartime news abounds during times of conflict, but once the soldiers and reporters pick up and leave, the victims of the war are left to pick up the pieces.

    Sometimes that takes years. The war in Bosnia-Herzegovina ravaged the country from 1992 to 1995, resulting in a human rights disaster. Tensions between Serb, Croat and Muslim ethnic groups eventually gave way to genocide. The conflict left hundreds of thousands dead; many people were murdered, raped or displaced.

    Though the war ended nearly 20 years ago, the country still has a lot of healing to do.
    Last June, with the aid of Seattle University’s Global Grants and the Endowed Mission Fund, Seattle University’s Matteo Ricci College professors Dr. Serena Cosgrove and Dr. Ben Curtis took a group of students to Bosnia-Herzegovina to do post-conflict research.

    Their experience is now being documented in a photography exhibit in the Kinsey Gallery entitled “The Art of Peace: A Study of Peacebuilding Efforts in Bosnia-Herzegovina.” The focus of the trip, according to Curtis, was directed towards the progress being made in the country, as opposed to the turmoil that still exists.

    “In general, the motivation behind the trip was to study how civil society activists are trying to promote peace and human rights in Bosnia,” Curtis wrote in an emailed statement to the Spectator. “There is no longer violent conflict in the country, but it is a long way from peace and reconciliation.”

    The students on the trip got a direct look at the process towards peace during their research.

    “What tends to dominate news stories and brief visitors’ impressions of the country is all its problems,” Curtis said. “But there are many signs of hope, too. That’s why we met with people and organizations who represent those signs of hope. They are the people doing the work to knit Bosnian society back together again, to promote communication and understanding among the different national groups, and to foster accountable and transparent democratic politics.”

    Seattle U graduate Morgan Marler’s photography project was born of this approach. Cosgrove and Curtis have done trips in the past to post-conflict societies, and have always brought a photographer with them. This time, aware of Marler’s interest in photography, they asked her to fill that role.

    Each student on the trip was responsible for coming up with a project, something they could study in Bosnia. Some analyzed issues related to gender, religion and ethnicity. Marler’s project became a photo documentation of the peace-building process.

    “My aim in creating this exhibit was not to focus on the war, per se, but what is going on afterwards,” Marler said. “So I didn’t spend a lot of time looking at broken down buildings or things that were there as far as remnants of war; I spent a lot of my time capturing images of people that are working towards peace and the images that represented that.”

    At the official opening of the exhibit, several other students will give presentations regarding their particular projects in Bosnia-Herzegovina, thus allowing attendees to pair these subjects with the exhibit and take a more holistic look at their experiences.

    While Marler said it is not necessary that anyone do any prior research before attending the gallery, it might help to add some context to the photographs.

    “[The Bosnian War] happened right when the majority of us college students were either born or in the early toddler years,” Marler said, explaining why it’s difficult to have an accurate frame of reference for the conflict. She hopes that people will gain something from the exhibit, even if they don’t have much background knowledge on the war.

    “I would hope that [the visitors] would walk out having learned something about either themselves, the conflict, or just another way about going about being a citizen of the world,” Marler said.

    Curtis has similar hopes for the project.

    “These activists’ examples are relevant not just for Bosnia, but for any person who wants to learn how to make positive social change,” Curtis wrote. “That’s why, even though the U.S. hasn’t experienced a conflict like Bosnia has, the lessons from this trip I hope will be applied in all the student participants’ lives—so that they have a deeper understanding of how to make change, how to work for social justice.”

    “The Art of Peace: A Study of Peacebuilding Efforts in Bosnia-Herzegovina” is currently on display in the Kinsey Gallery and will remain open to the public through Dec. 10. The official opening reception will be held on Thursday, Oct.16 from 4:30-7:30 p.m. Admission is free.

    Leave a Comment
    More to Discover
    About the Contributor
    Lena Beck, Author

    Comments (0)

    All The Spectator Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *