Humanities

‘War and Peace Project’ exhibition open at Grinnell College

Grinnell, Iowa - The “War and Peace Project,” a collaborative work created on all 747 pages of Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace,” is on display in Burling Gallery on the Grinnell College campus.

Laura “Lola” Baltzell began the project in 2008 by making a collage from each page of a 1970s Soviet edition of the novel she’d picked up in Leningrad. She expanded the project to include a small group of friends, dubbed “Team Tolstoy.”

The team consisted of six Grinnell College graduates, and nine artists total. In addition to Baltzell, Lucy Arrington, Christiane Carney Johnson, Otto Mayr, Lucy Zahner Montgomery, Emma Rhodes, Elizabeth Jorganson Sherman, both Lynn Waskelis and Adrienne Wetmore contributed to this work. Occasionally, they invited guest artists to contribute a collage.

There were three rules for the project:

  1. Each collage should contain at least one word of the original text;
  2. The artist may not touch up or redo any collage; and
  3. The artist is free to decide if he or she would like to respond to the story line or not.

Each 5 x 7 inch collage incorporates one page from the Russian text, combined with bits of maps, dried flowers, ink, wax, graphite, thread, letters, and other printed material. Waskelis, calls it a “mash-up of personal bits and random detritus washed up from the universe of print.”

Overall, the project is a creative dialogue between Tolstoy and a collaborative team of artists who “… struggle to make connections, find meanings, and ultimately to create something of value,” according to Arrington.

In addition to the exhibition, a roundtable, workshop and gallery talk are planned for October and November. All of the events are free and open to the public in Burling Gallery at Burling Library, 1111 Sixth Ave., Grinnell.

On Wednesday, Oct. 1, at 4:15 p.m., Kelly Herold, associate professor of Russian at Grinnell College, and Edward Cohn, assistant professor of history at Grinnell, and a visiting scholar of Russian art history, will lead a roundtable discussion on images of war in Tolstoy's “War and Peace,” Russia's role in World War I in an age of revolution, and representations of war in Russian art of the early 20th century. The “War and Peace Project” will provide a backdrop and starting point for the discussion.

On Nov. 12 at 4:15 p.m., Lola Baltzell and Christiane Carney Johnson will discuss the collaborative process involved in the “War and Peace Project.” They will then lead a collage workship from 8-9:30 p.m.

The “War and Peace Project” was brought to Grinnell’s campus by the Faulconer Gallery, in collaboration with the Grinnell College Russian Department, the Eastern European studies department and the Center for the Humanities.

It is open through Dec. 7. It can be viewed daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. in Burling Library, and admission is free. In addition to being on view at Grinnell College’s Burling Gallery, the work will be featured in the events connected with the Humanities Center’s A Century of War.

Burling Gallery is located on the lower level of Burling Library at 1111 Sixth Ave., Grinnell. For more information about the exhibition and related programs, call 641-269-4660 or visit www.grinnell.edu/faulconergallery. Information on parking and accessibility is available on the college website. Accommodation requests may be made to Conference Operations at 641-269-3235 or calendar@grinnell.edu.

Cutline for attached photos: Team Tolstoy, “War and Peace Project,”detail, collage on paper.

Photos: Collage 1, Collage 2

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