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Artfully Unforgotten: Voices of Afghanistan October 20, 2009

Posted by leskanturek in Political and Social Art, Public art.
Tags: , ,

Last year, Parsons Illustration students collaborated with Artfully Unforgotten , a non-profit that stresses  social advocacy through the arts. Parsons illustration students donated their art and raised $5000 for an orphanage in Kigali, Rwanda. This semester, we are collaborating again,  now to  raise funds for women entrepreneurs in Afghanistan and generate awareness of the realities and  possibilities in aiding this region and people in crisis. To start our  partnering  a short film, “Voices of Afghanistan”  was presented in Kellen auditorium  (66 5th ave.) today by Heather Metcalfe, founder and Executive Director of Artfully Unforgotten, and Kirsten Larvick the film’s editor and assoc. producer.

AttendancePreface to film(Above) left Heather Metcalfe Founder/Executive Director of Artfully Unforgotten), middle Kirsten Larvick the film’s editor and assoc. producer,  right Assoc. Prof. Nora Krug from the illustration dept.


The film was followed by a panel discussion on the situation in Afghanistan with Heather, Nora and Adrianne Dicker Kadzinski, an army reserve officer who served in Afghanistan in 2002 and who is now involved in humanitarian  projects  for Afghanistan as a civilian.

Heather _Adrianne(Above) Heather and Adrianne Dicker Kadzinski taking audience questions.


A number of aspects of the situation in Afghanistan were discussed and highlighted. Adrianne began by explaining the  many forces playing a part in the politics of the country: the Taliban, native tribes , the Afghan government, the U.S., gender politics, corruption, and the drug trade.   Afghan women have taken on the  role of  rebuilders of the the country but many obstacles stand in their way.   Both Heather and Adrianne  remarked  that through this turmoil and war the Afghan people remain hopeful  and proud of their country.  There is  a pitfall in portraying the Afghan women and people as victims which would be a dis-service to them. It is a complicated  and many sided issue as evidenced when Wendy Popp (Soph concepts instructor) asked about the meaning of the burqa to Afghan woman. The answer was not as clear cut as it would appear.

Peter Hamlin, sophomore concepts instructor, illustrator and photo journalist brought along  images shot in Afghanistan  by Associated Press photographers and brought up the issue of a personal opinion  and journalistic neutrality  in art. Nora Krug also spoke about the role of artists and illustrators throughout history  in creating social responsible work ( or at times irresponsible work and propaganda).

The book ” The Photographer ” with  photographs by Didier Lefevre and  illustrations and story by Emmanuel Guibert was brought in for attendees to look through. Didier Lefevre is a French photojournalist who documented a Doctors Without Borders mission to Afghanistan. The book is excellent.



I would add to the above book Illustrator/graphic novelist Joe Sacco who  has a number of fantastic  artist/journalist books : Palestine, Stories from BosniaSafe Area: Gorazde, The Fixer. He has traveled to Yugoslavia and the middle east and brought back in graphic novel form the personal stories of these war torn areas.

The four sophomore  classes in the illustration dept. will be creating art pieces based upon their research and the  presentation. The pieces will ultimately be displayed and auctioned off as part of a silent auction with the proceeds being donated to the Business Council for Peace, which works with women business owners in Afghanistan and the Mashale Noor School, located in Mazar-e Sharif.   The benefit and auction will be held on December 4th at the Best Buy Loft in Soho.  The auction is of course open to any artist who wants to donate work.

Wendy had remarked that this is a unique opportunity  to experience a feeling of unity and purpose that extends beyond our private classes and and to see the passion and dedication given to a social cause.  It’s important  to discuss and experience how art can be a powerful catalyst for social change.

It has been mentioned that the work created by Parsons students is their own reaction to the material presented .  A great aspect of this project and art with a social conscience for me in a class room is that it stimulates discussion.  This is a complicated topic with many valid viewpoints. In fact Nora, during the course of the presentation conveyed how difficult it would be try and some up the whole Afghan conflict  within a single piece.   I’ll be posting some work done by students as the project progresses.


Below are a few links to learn more about Afghanistan and the project:

Visit Artfully Unforgotten for more info on Voices of Afghanistan and other projects.

Here is a new PBS documentary on the current situation in Afghanistan


About Afghanistan/Pakistan.

Afghanistan Wikipedia is of course a place to start for basic info with a number of interesting links in the reference section.

From Peter Hamlin:

Opium in Afghanistan: Cultivation, addiction, and eradication
This interactive includes video reporting and infographics showing opium cultivation statistics.

Depth of Field:The War in Afghanistan
An AP photographers visual essay of a US military outpost in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan election: Casting votes in a troubled country
Video reporting and infographics about the candidates and the election in Afghanistan.
From Nora, examples for politically motivated illustration:




1. Afghanistan Project « LOVE ✩ L O V E ✩ SUKO - November 24, 2009

[…] For more information either go to their main website, or here. […]

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