LET’S STAND FOR PEACE
The Art, War and Peace Museum is the story of two journeys. The first journey began in Saigon in 1975 and culminated here in Jensen Beach, Florida in November of 2003. The second journey begins now, in May of 2004 with A Stand for Peace on the steps of the Museum.
When Huong, a young 25 year old mother and Vietnamese journalist, escaped her war-torn country she was wearing one shoe. This woman of “chronic hope” and tenacity carried her infant son on that journey from Saigon to Guam, to the California coast finally settling in Alaska. She began her life as a transplanted American with ‘one shoe on and one shoe off’ Like the nursery rhyme. Only she kept looking for that lost shoe as she worked on finding her new life. She found it in Alaska where she gave up her journalist’s pen for the painter’s palette. This journey continued with exhibits throughout the United States with the “final” destination Florida.
Symbolically, her adventures would continue looking for that lost shoe, searching for a new purpose in life trying to find that piece of her that remained in Vietnam. The missing piece and the missing shoe both found their way in the conceptualization of The Art, War and Peace Museum. She gathered together a group of benefactors to help fund the project and set it on its feet and in 1996 began work on the War Pieces.
Her work began with beautiful images filled with the joys and sweetness of life. These paintings were an attempt to put behind the past—a time of repression, and denial and a time to leave the war-scarred childhood behind. These images delight us with sunrises and sunsets, romance—all that life should and could be. They are enchanting and invite us back again and again. They urge us to examine both war and peace and choose.
On walls of the museum hang those 54 years in an autobiography in art. It is her personal drama but one that reflects the harsh realities of not only her life but the lives of the 4th World—The Refugees, and all those left in the garbage mounds of wars. But this art transcends the personal.
It represents the wounds of war of all peoples , of all times.. It is the trauma and vicissitudes of a century of war that begs the question, “Why?”
Huong offers up her experiences and with them her truth. We, the observers, become witnesses to that truth and are called to answer her question—“Why?”
In its entirety, the exhibit reflects the multi aspects of war—often under the spillage of the ubiquitous red rain on her canvases.
Her personal drama calls forth our conscience, both individually and collectively, and forces us to think anew at our choices. But we are given hope, too, in the vibrant colors and motifs of the Peace paintings.
While the Peace paintings give us a joyful moment in time, the War art has no fixed moments. All is flux as is War itself. Wars never end they just change names. They connect us all over generations and over millennia. A connective tissue joins each painting
This was the first journey. Today the 2nd journey begins. The Museum opens its doors and moves outside, moves from a building to the world. The message moves in the open air and we will Stand for Peace with artistically designed placards painted by Huong and the community of people who visited and volunteered in the museum—a museum run by a small group of enthusiastic, energetic and committed people..
“It is our hope that while the canvases have raised consciousness, they can do more. We believe that “Thinking Peace” begins as early as the womb, in the hearts and minds of the parents. Parents need to realize the importance of “Thinking Peace” and passing this value on. Children, too, can learn peaceful ways of resolving conflicts, of learning compassion and empathy and dialogue.
We hope to expand the message through seminars, classes, a Peace Camp for Children, and by offering a place for other artists for peace to congregate and work.
“It is time that I leave this season of my grief behind. This is my statement to enter a new phase. I painted my life and my convictions onto these canvases. Now I take them outside and invite others to ‘Think Peace’ with me.”
Join us on this journey. Best foot forward, both shoes on, into Peace.