Life was chaos. I was working around the clock on Democracy Rising's Peace on Earth
week event and deleting as much email as possible without reading it; trying to catch
up to my life. I was getting so much mail from Jim Whitlock that I began to get the
sense that something must be going on. If you've been to a peace protest in Buffalo in
the last 6 months you've probably seen Jim Whitlock. He's what you might call a tireless
advocate for peace.
A lot of the mail from Jim had 'Faces of Iraq' in the headline. Drawing once more
on my incredible intuitive abilities, I began to realize that Faces of Iraq must not
be just some newspaper article or forwarded link but an actual 'something'. So I
clicked on it to see what it was.
Apparently there was a traveling exhibit called the Faces of Iraq
and Jim wanted to bring it to Buffalo and was soliciting suggestions on where it could be
displayed (some brilliant person suggested the CEPA gallery) and how to staff it and help
with the logistics. Everyone else seemed to be offering great suggestions (through the
on riseup.net) so
I figured I could go see it when they brought it here and other than that it would all take
care of itself.
Then one day the Democracy Rising event had come and gone and I slowly began catching
up on my EMail. There was lots more EMail about Faces of Iraq including mail inviting
comments on the event flyer and invitations to be friends of the exhibit. It suddenly
occured to me that I should be a friend of the exhibit so that I could get some
literature at the event about this website and the other GBINet.info
websites. I sent a quick email to Jim asking what I could do to become a friend and
his answer was to just give him some literature and he would put it out on the tables
for me. That didn't really sound like being much of a friend so I asked him if there
was anything I could do to help the exhibit and he asked if I could show up Friday afternoon
to help with final preparations.
Val from the Green Party reads some of the
photo captions from the exhibit
I had never been to the CEPA gallery
have just recently become aware of
what they've done with some of the great buildings on Main street in the theater district,
but the CEPA gallery spaces are well beyond anything I was expecting. As an early arrival
I got to spend a lot of time wandering around the exhibit alone. There were a lot of
tables to move and banners to hang and a projector to help set up, but for the most part
the CEPA staff had already finished everything. I had plenty of time to look around the
exhibit and absorb some of the photos and admire all of the other CEPA galleries.
The final preparations appeared to be finished so I put some GBINet literature out on the
table and prepared to go home but just then other people that Jim invited to help set up
began to arrive and they were people I knew so I got caught up in conversations with them.
Bill Marx was there very early and he was setting up slides from his recent trip to Iraq on
Then Jim arrived and there was a whole new opportunity to help with setting up the upstairs
reception area. After that I felt sufficiently involved to call myself a friend of the
exhibit. Lot's of other friends and sponsors of the exhibit showed up as it was getting
close to the time for the exhibit to open. I could have stayed and talked forever but it
was getting to be time for the lovely and talented Heather K to get home from work so all
thoughts turned to getting home.
A quick bike trip later I was asking her whether she wanted to add a few MORE things to the
already overflowing list of things we had to do that night. There were literally 3 or more
different activist functions going on at any given point in the night all night long. We
decided on trying to do the whirlwind tour and just spend 20 minutes or so at each event.
We would start with a trip back to Faces of Iraq and to be honest we didn't do very well
at limiting ourselves to 20 minutes there.
Heather K views the exhibit
As Heather began to move through the gallery carefully reading each caption and taking in
the photos I began to realize that I had sort of missed the point with my haphazard random
viewing of pictures. I started to go through more slowly and more carefully and read the
photo captions and get a sense of who the people in the photos were. I came in with the
sense that this exhibit is about showing that the people of Iraq are people just like us,
and I figured I already knew that so I didn't really need to read everything. I began
to realize that the people of Iraq aren't people like us, thery're people like themselves
and if I read about them and studied the photos I could actually begin to get to know them.
Bill Marx delivers an
emotional appeal to tell
people about this exhibit.
To date I have still not made it all the way through the exhibit and read every single
caption... but I WILL. I made it through much of the gallery but then it was time for the
opening ceremonies and what promised to be some good speaches. We all filed into the
first floor atrium and were indeed fortunate to hear some great speaches.
preparation the event organizers were thinking about whether there was anything more they
could do to further depoliticize the exhibition. They felt it was important to extend an
invitation to people all across the spectrum to see these photos. The speaker from Amnesty
International had no such concern. This display was about rehumanizing the Iraqi people and
her speach did just that. Finally it was Bill Marx's turn to speak. Bill has been doing
great work organizing a local presense for Pax-Christi
He visited Iraq in person in February and now he spends a great deal of time telling the
American people about the people he met there. His speach was an impassioned appeal to
tell everyone you knew about the deeply moving photos that are on display in this
exhibit. I resolved to come home and write this recap to add my own personal endorsement
The faces of Iraq exhibit will be on display until Saturday, May 10th. They are
open every weekday until 5pm and will have special eventing hours this Wednesday May 7th (Open 6 to 9pm).
I strongly encourage everyone to make it down to view this wonderful collection of art that
many dedicated people have worked very hard to make available. It is well worth your time.
from Jim Whitlock:
if you have time and energy to so note, the BPP Organizers'
Network really deserves the credit, I'm just the loud grunt doing
a lot of the legwork. It was their money and the personal time
investments of many of them that really made it happen. Marty
Sawma, Teresa Maciocha, and Sandy Carrubba deserve special
credit for their heavy investments in everything from getting flyers
out to preparing and serving the opening reception refreshments.