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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Transforming Conflict through Art in Libya | Colette Rausch, United States Institute of Peace

It’s a very important message to the wounded, the people who lost their legs or an arm. They got depressed because they’re so young and they lost limbs. So he just wanted to give them the message that even if you are broken, your life is not over. Your life continues and you can be a part of the country. This is the message. That is why he loves the broken things because we all have this, like these failures and these scars inside.
Those are the words of Libya artist Salwa Al-Tajoury, who returned to her native country from France after the end of Muammar Qaddafi’s 42-year rule. According to author Rausch, Salwa felt compelled to return to help her people free themselves from Qaddafi.

Her comment above refers to sculptur Ali Al-Wakwak, who under the former regime had been prohibited to work as an artist.
Now that the fighting was over and Benghazi was free, Al-Wakwak pivoted back to being an artist, now using the detritus of war to sculpt artwork chronicling the horrors of it as well as the promise of humanity.
A former palace of Qaddafi in Benghazi has been transformed into an art-and-war museum. The artwork of Sawa, Al-Wakwak and others is on display at the museum:

Referring to Salwa, Rausch writes:
She still hasn’t come to grips with the fact the violence is over. But despite what she witnessed, she was glad she had come back to play a role. Salwa felt that she was able to help her people in some small way and she could have never remained in the safety and comfort of her home in France while her people were dying and suffering for such a worthwhile cause.
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This article is featured in today's paper (July 11), Beyond Child's Play: Peace Now, available at the Peace Now tab above and by free email subscription.

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