The Voices from the My Lai Memorial Exhibit

Laurie House

“So, I made a sculpture, with the woman’s face in the middle of the sculpture from a photo that affected me the most of all the displays. She’s around my age, 53-54, and she’s standing in front of her family. The whole family is standing together and all arms encircling each other. She is clearly the matriarch, and she’s at the front, the tiniest little woman. On her face is such rage and helplessness that there is nothing she can do to save all of these beloved people. So, I put her I’ve trapped her in a giant box of wood, some of which have the American flag on them. She’s kind of tilted to the side, with her face just facing the wall. She’s completely powerless, there’s nothing she can do and there’s such a huge giant structure bearing down on her. And off to the side is a single block with a little young toddler’s face looking at her. And he’s still sort of innocent, he doesn’t know what’s going on. That’s it, that’s the helplessness that I can’t even imagine feeling.”

Colin Powers

“I built this sculpture after spending a number of hours of listening to speakers and then viewing all of the panels in the exhibit. I was feeling pretty overwhelmed, and maybe somewhat despairing in some ways about the human condition and the state of affairs that our country has gotten ourselves into, in terms of militarization and violence. I needed to build something that was about affirmation, so I chose the blocks, first the block with the serum being held up — the blood serum, by one of the corpsmen — which struck me as the only piece of the image, the Life magazine image, which represented an actual certifact of life-giving force. Underneath that, I arrayed abstracts of green that represents foliage, life, plant life, and the life of earth because I really needed that affirmation. And I felt like the spirit of this exhibit and the people I saw speaking today were affirmative voices, voices that spoke to bettering our condition, living in greater harmony with both ourselves and other species and our earth.”

Connie Saltzman

“My experience building my artwork was actually pretty cathartic and creative. When I first started, I had a block no pun intended, but I looked at the American flag and I looked at the images of these women in so much pain, and I couldn’t reconcile the two. I couldn’t reconcile how this symbol of freedom and liberty and justice could exist alongside a symbol of such injustice and atrocity and pain. And then I realized that of course they exist side-by-side. We actually have built our country and our sense of liberty and freedom on the pain of other people. And we think that makes us stronger. We think that war makes us somehow more secure and safer as a country. But I think it makes us weaker. I wanted to show that with my artwork. I wanted to show that we have built our country on the pain of others and that we could topple over at any moment. It weakens us, war weakens us. And we have to recognize our past and what we’ve done.”

Where the Comfort Is
by Anonymous

“My collage is called ‘Where the Comfort Is’. It’s a reflection of war, terrorism, violence. It features the faces of young men, very young men, who were soldiers of Vietnam War. Underneath it, it says ‘Come to Believe It’ meaning isn’t it time that we begin to tell ourselves honestly that we’re creating terrorists of our own children by taking young men and sending them to war to be terrorists. This is happening everyday in our country, and we glorify it. We act like it’s the greatest thing that they can do for our country, and we brainwash them but calling and introducing life everyday. ‘Come to Believe It’ isn’t it time is that we need to reflect and be honest with ourselves that we are creating terrorists over and over. They’re the ancestors of the ancestors of the soldiers are probably our current-day mass shooters, vigilante police officers et cetera, et cetera. The violence spreads throughout our country. They bring it home. They pass on the trauma, and we’re just creating more and more versions of this violence. I called it  ‘Where the Comfort Is’, is because I think with our holidays and stuff, Memorial Days, Veterans’ Day, the flag honoring, we tend to glorify these people, murderers, and we don’t think about how what they did is a great tragedy.”