Eyes Wide Open Exhibit, Charlotte, NC 2006
Eyes Wide Open was the widely acclaimed exhibit of boots from American soldiers and shoes of Iraqi people who had died in the war in Iraq. The exhibit was developed by AFSC and had been displayed in over 80 cities around the country. Multi-media presentations offered other information on the human cost of war.
A Friend in the Charlotte Meeting (Karyn Coria) had a strong leading to bring the exhibit to town during Fall, 2006. Charlotte Friends worked closely with the NC Director of AFSC (Anne Lennon) to sponsor the North Carolina version of the exhibit consisting of the boots of 65 NC Soldiers. Soon a broad-based community group was formed consisting of Quakers, Baptists, Presbyterians, Jews, Muslims, atheists, Women for Peace, Gold Stars mothers, Veterans for Peace and many others. Over the course of two months of intensive work, space was located at the Spirit Square Arts Center in downtown Charlotte. Donations were secured from many individuals, churches, and other community organizations to raise the $2,000 exhibit cost. Announcements and stories appeared in many media outlets, including a feature on “Charlotte Talks,” a call-in show on the local NPR affiliate.
The exhibit was highly successful. Spirit Square was a moving and dignified setting for the boots and displays. The downtown location led many passersby to enter the exhibit, with a total of more than 1,600 people attending. Speakers, musicians, and volunteers during the run represented a very diverse set of faith and community groups. The closing hour was particularly moving, with a haunting violin soloist, and diverse participants sharing deep reflections out of the silence.
The exhibit raised awareness of the human costs of war to many Charlotteans, promoted Friends peace testimony, increased awareness of the work of AFSC, and helped build a sense of community among those committed to peace.
Denny & Jo Ann Fernald
Celo Friends Meeting, Burnsville, NC