Peace exhibit opens at Bradbury

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Museum: Santa Fe artists says nuclear weapons may not have been necessary

By Tris DeRoma

Artist and peace activist Shannyn Sollitt doesn’t just want you to see her artwork, she wants you to feel it.
Currently hanging in the Bradbury Science Museum’s public forum space is a symbol Sollitt created incorporating cultural and religious icons from around the world.

“I hope that people standing in front of the icon will get peace from looking at it; will receive the positive energy that went into it and the energy from the various spiritual paths represented in it,” said Sollitt, a resident of Santa Fe. “I hope they walk out of the Bradbury Science Museum with a new sense of inspiration and hope.”

Included in Sollitt’s exhibit is a timeline of events and quotes leading up to Hiroshima and Nagasaki that suggest use of the nuclear weapons against the Japanese may not have been necessary. She includes a quote from General Dwight D. Eisenhower, and others to make her case.

“Japan was at the moment seeking some way to surrender with minimum loss of ‘face’. It wasn’t necessary to hit them with that awful thing,” is quote she used from Eisenhower, taken from a 1963 interview in Newsweek. She also included quotes from General Douglas MacArthur, and Admiral William D. Leahy.

Sollitt also chose to open the exhibit July 16, because July 16, 1945 was the date the U.S. Army detonated the first nuclear weapon at what was then known as White Sands Proving Ground in the Jornado Del Muerto Desert in New Mexico.

On the day the exhibit opened, many people attended, including friends and supporters of Sollitt.

“It certainly makes a powerful impression,” said friend and fellow peace activist Pamela  Gilchrist. “I think she’s excerpted some very critical points for use in her presentation.”

Members of a group calling themselves the “Veterans For Peace” traveled from two hours away to see the exhibit.
William Prinkey, who served as a cadet in the Navy during World War II, said “The exhibit reaffirmed some things I already knew.”

Anna Harrison, another VFP member, speculated that the U.S. may have been too quick to drop the bombs on Japan. “Since the peace talks were happening, we didn’t have to drop the bombs right away. We could have waited, in my opinion,” she said.

There were differing opinions as well. Included in the exhibit space is a book visitors can sign and give their opinions.

“In the (National) Museum of Nuclear and Scientific History we saw exhibits on how Germany and Japan were working on their own atomic bombs,” wrote Susan Strearer of Los Angeles Calif. “My mother, who was a teenager during (World War II) turned to me and said, ‘don’t think they wouldn’t have used it on us either.’”

No matter what people think of the nuclear issue, Sollitt hopes her work inspires peace and intelligent dialogue.

“I hope people viewing the exhibit will be inspired enough to create the political will that will transform a laboratory currently engaged in mass destruction into an institution that engages in only life-affirming research and development,” Sollitt said.

To find out more about the Bradbury Science Museum, visit lanl.gov/museum/index.shtml.

To get more details about Sollitt’s creation, visit networkearth.org/lapp/.