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Georgia Southern Museum hosts world premiere of “From Protest to Peace”

Visitors to the Georgia Southern University Museum this fall will view, for the first time outside of its original venue, a stunning exhibition of international public art.

The display, titled ‘From Protest to Peace: Murals by the Bogside Artists of Northern Ireland,” includes eleven wall-paintings located on buildings along Rossville Street in the Northern Ireland city of Derry. The murals depict events from the recent troubled history of Northern Ireland.

‘It’s a real coup for us to have the world premiere of this exhibit,” said Howard Keeley, director of the University’s Center for Irish Studies and a co-curator of the exhibition. ‘The murals will be here until January 2008, and when they leave here, they will be traveling to a number of museums and universities around the U.S.”

The murals depicted in the exhibition were created by three men, Tom Kelly, his brother William Kelly, and their friend, Kevin Hasson, known collectively as The Bogside Artists. The artists are three distinct individuals: a humanist, a republican and a committed Christian. All three have personally experienced the unfolding of the Troubles’ during their lifetimes.

In painting the murals, the men continued an Ulster (Northern Ireland) tradition of using murals as a vehicle for social commentary, but they have taken the tradition further. The Bogside Artists use their murals in cross-community workshops involving both Protestant and Catholic youth to initiate discussions focused on the history and context embedded in the murals. The art is used to revisit the past, but also to encourage participants to reflect on their history beyond traditionally established boundaries. The result is a grass-roots effort designed to help move the process of peace and reconciliation forward.

In recognizing and acknowledging a troubled past, the images of the artists serve as healing instruments in the difficult reconciliation process, ‘ said Bob Frigo, assistant director of the University Honors Program and a co-curator of the exhibit. ‘What sets The Bogside Artists apart from other muralists in Northern Ireland is their use of the mural as a peace-building tool in local cross-community workshops.”
The murals have been digitally reproduced in large format, and they are exhibited with educational panels that explore the history depicted in each mural. The educational panels were written by students in the Celtic Identity and Conflict course, taught by Steven Engel, director of the University Honors Program and another co-curator of the exhibit.
Six additional banners build the context of the exhibition, covering topics such as ‘the Troubles”; the Bogside Artists’ reconciliation workshops; and the city of Derry’s colonial past.

The original images of the murals were photographed by Martin Melaugh, research fellow at the University of Ulster, Magee campus, in Derry. Recent Georgia Southern graduate Joshua Jamison created the logo image for the exhibition and graphic design for the education panels.

The Georgia Southern Museum is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m. Admission is free. For more information about the exhibition, contact the museum at 912-681-5444 or go to http://ceps.georgiasouthern.edu/museum/exhibits/.

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