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Contributor Bios and Statements

1982 March

Gary Schoichet


Gary Schoichet is an accomplished photographer often lauded for his ability to develop rapport with people as a basis for making sensitive portraits and engaging stories. His large body of work from the 1980s included a San Francisco project of interviewing and photographing survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombings. Regarding his motivation, he says, “The actual effects of it…were with these people for the rest of their lives. Families were lost, and histories lost… so maybe if people start to feel for other people, something will happen.” His work appears in magazines and exhibits.

Statement: The Years of Living Dangerously

It was always dangerous to live in the world. The atomic bomb and its successors made it more so. Worse and newer worse ways of killing never go out of style. The people who advocate them most strongly have not experienced their effects. The 100s of thousands, perhaps millions, worldwide, history wise, generations going back who suffered and proceeding forward will suffer because there is no political will to say “No.”

At 76 years of age I have always lived in dangerous times. Born during World War II, in the 50s hiding under a school desk to be safe from the atomic bomb targeting Queens. There were Communists hiding in the woodwork, teaching in our schools, subverting our democracy. We know, as now, the real danger was the government force-feeding lies.

There was the war in Vietnam for no reason. The fall of the Berlin Wall was supposed to bring peace and prosperity but brought only more danger. Continuing wars in the mid-East and Afghanistan, the World Trade Center, it’s just not a safe world to live in.

When the United States dropped the bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki hundreds of thousands of people were killed instantly, obliterated, and only their shadows remained. I had read first-hand accounts and novels as well that tried to describe the horror. When I spoke with survivors, I heard what I had known only through secondary sources.

This is something that cannot happen again.

Albert Einstein, whose idea the bomb was, and rued its use, said, “The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it.”


Marion Held


Marion Held’s solo exhibits include: Hunterdon Museum of Art, New Jersey State Museum, Morris Museum, The Newark Museum, Medialia Gallery, Art Resources Transfer, the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, 14 Sculptors Gallery, Aljira, University of Wisconsin, and William Paterson College. Selected group shows include: h2O (Kyoto, Japan), the Ifan Museum (Dakar, Senegal), Kenkeleba Gallery (New York, New York), and the Meguro Museum (Tokyo, Japan). Held’s many awards include two New Jersey State Council on the Arts Fellowships in Sculpture, a Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation Creative Fellows Award, an Aljira Emerge Fellowship, three Dodge Foundation grants, as well as several residencies. She was an invited artist to international working symposia in Dakar, Senegal; Beer-Sheva, Israel; Mojacar, Spain; and Boleslawiec, Poland. Learn more here.

Artist’s Statement on Masks to Commemorate Hiroshima:

I traveled to Hiroshima, Japan in 2015 and was profoundly affected by a visit to the Peace Park.   I saw objects recovered after the bombing and skeletons of buildings, along with monuments and memorials, and felt a sense of horror and responsibility.  It is difficult to deal with, and making art is my way of coming to terms with it.  The masks made for “Shadows and Ashes" commemorate what I saw at Hiroshima and are a tribute to those who survived. Under the best of circumstances having nuclear weapons is an unacceptable risk to the world because of possible accidents and misuse by governments, including our own.  People need to be thinking hard about the consequences of using these weapons and how we can rid the world of them.


Hiroshima Children’s Drawings

Hiroshima Children’s Drawings are from All Souls Unitarian Church in Washington, D.C., thanks to former administrator and now volunteer custodian and curator Melvin Hardy, who is also co-founder and chairman of Millennium Art Salon. In 1947 the children of the Church sent school supplies to survivors in two schools and an orphanage in Japan. In response came the crayon, pencil and watercolor drawings from the surviving children of the Honkawa School (who had lost 400 of their classmates and teachers in the bombing). The drawings toured the U.S. after the war, went forgotten in a closet for decades, and in 2002 were rediscovered, restored and documented in film and academic essays.


John Canaday

John Canaday’s poetry will be featured across the exhibit. He is the author of Critical Assembly, a collection of poems in the voices of the men and women—scientists, spouses, laborers, locals, and military personnel—involved in the Manhattan Project. His previous book of poems, The Invisible World, set in the Middle East and New England, won the Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets. He is also the author of a nonfiction study, The Nuclear Muse: Literature, Physics, and the First Atomic Bombs.


John Canaday on poetry about atomic weapons:

“…nuclear weapons have been inscribed into our culture and our psyches, a process that is surely among the most crucial transformations in human history.” John Canaday, Critical Assembly: Poems of the Manhattan Project, University of New Mexico Press, 2017

It should go without saying that the existence of nuclear weapons is the greatest threat to our survival. But since few of us have seen a live nuclear weapon, much less an active one, it requires a good deal of saying to render the danger present to our minds. Each of us needs to contribute what we can, by whatever means we have at hand.

For me, this means poetry—an ancient art, but also, perhaps, a marginal one. What can poetry make happen? A great deal, I believe. As Einstein famously said, “The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking, and we thus drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.” Poetry can help us arrest that drift by revealing the modes of thinking that brought us here: the metaphors, narratives, metonymies by which the Manhattan Project scientists conceived of what they were doing and constructed a sense of themselves that allowed them to “change everything.”


Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security

The technical information which appears on the graphical posters and video throughout the exhibit was developed at the Program on Science and Global Security is based at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs was a collaboration between the following individuals.


Alexander Glaser is associate professor at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School and the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, where he directs the Nuclear Futures Laboratory and co-directs the Program on Science and Global Security. He was selected by Foreign Policy magazine as one of the “100 Leading Global Thinkers of 2014.”


Zia Mian is a physicist and co-director at Princeton University's Program on Science and Global Security, where he also directs the Program’s Project on Peace and Security in South Asia. He is co-chair of the International Panel on Fissile Materials (IPFM). He received the 2014 Linus Pauling Legacy Award for “his accomplishments as a scientist and as a peace activist in contributing to the global effort for nuclear disarmament and for a more peaceful world.


Tamara Patton is a Ph.D. student at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School. Previously she was a researcher at the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation and at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. In 2017, she was selected by Pacific Standard for its “30 under 30” list of young intellectuals “poised to shape society’s coming ideas.”


Note: Thanks to Mashiko at Medialia…Rack & Hamper Gallery, New York, New York, for the works by Gary Schoichet and Marion Held.


Curator Mary Hamill

Mary Hamill is the Co-Director/Curator of the Bernstein Gallery at Princeton University, where she oversees exhibitions of art with an eye to the humanitarian role the arts can play. She is a pioneer of participatory photo-based art regarding social issues. In a multi-year project begun in the 90’s, she loaned video cameras to homeless people and transformed the imagery and sound into collaborative interactive installations at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Sanders Theatre, Harvard; and the Massachusetts State House. Her seminal “Constructs of Frailty” (Rose Art Museum) led to a medical mission in remote rural Vietnam; and this resulted in a collaborative exhibition in the village center and an installation at Stanford University. She also developed an installation based on her service as a Public Affairs Officer on the hospital ship USNS Mercy in the South China Sea. Her artwork has been exhibited in Canada, England, France, India, Spain, Uruguay and other countries.


Cornell Site Curator Hannah Star Rogers

Hannah Star Rogers is a curator and scholar with a special emphasis on the intersection of art & science. Her exhibit “Making Science Visible: The Photography of Berenice Abbott” at the Fralin Museum of Art received an exhibits prize from the British Society for the History of Science and resulted in an invitation to lecture at the Smithsonian Archives of American Art. She is past Director of Research and Collaboration for ASU’s “Emerge: Artists and Scientists Redesign the Future 2016” and the Guest Bioart Curator for “Emerge: Frankenstein 2017.” Her exhibition, Art’s Work in the Age of Biotechnology: Shaping Our Genetic Futures, was hosted at the Contemporary Art Museum in Raleigh and sponsored by the NC Science Festival. In 2019, a multi-site expansion of this show will be held at the NCSU Gregg Museum of Art and Design.


Big Red Barn Assistant Curator Irene del Real

Irene del Real is a PhD candidate in Geological Studies and the Art Fellow for the Big Red Barn for the past year. During her time working at the Barn she has set up six art shows from graduate students and the annual Prisoner Express art show. She scouts for graduate students from across the disciplines who also have an artistic side and curates expositions that fit the Barn. Irene is originally from Chile and is graduating from Cornell on May 2019.


Photo Credit: Gary Schoichet. Anti-Nuclear Rally, New York, New York. June 12, 1982. Archival print. 16 x 20 inches.