Proposal Title: Unfinished Stories: Counting Iraqi Civilians Killed in the War, 01/28/2008, Mixed media
Proposal Synopsis: The intent of this project is to count and memorialize Iraqi civilians killed in the current war in Iraq. I hope that this positive energy will radiate outward, sending a message of peace, and help end the slaughter.
Using pages from Bible, the Koran, comparative religion texts, and a text by the Dalai Lama, I've cut pages into strips, and folded each strip in a knot. I am sewing the folded strips onto multicolored ribbons, and sewing the ribbons to a red fabric backing for hanging. So far, the piece is about 7 feet tall, 3-4 feet wide and about a foot deep. I intend to fold one strip for each civilian killed; at this point I'm only at a few thousand.
As I fold each strip, I say a silent prayer for the person memorialized, and family and friends left behind. During the folding process, I tried counting each strip, but lost track. I realized that was the most profound part of the project- I lost track, I started to just think in numbers, not human beings. That is what has happened. The dead are "the other" without concrete connection to our lives; it's too easy to turn away.
Artist's Biography: Carolyn Brown is an artist and art teacher from Maine. Moved by a September 2007 speech by Robert Shetterly about his project "Americans Who Tell the Truth", Carolyn decided to speak out with her art, and embarked on several ambitious works addressing morals, and personal and political tests. Unfinished Stories: Counting Iraqi Civilians Killed in the War is an ongoing piece attempting to memorialize these civilians with the respect and dignity that all humans deserve. Carolyn currently teaches art at a high school in Midcoast Maine.