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Conflict Zone opens at University Museum

Abby Moriarty, Staff Writer

The opening reception and walkthrough of the traveling multimedia art exhibit, “Conflict Zone,” featuring photography from the front lines of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, proved to be an eye-opening experience for those who attended.

Nathan Webster, a lecturer of English at the University of New Hampshire, along with Dale Valena, museum curator and library associate, presented the collection of wartime images displayed in the University Museum last Thursday.

Webster and Valena explained how it took them about a week to put the entire exhibit together, meticulously placing each individual image, making sure that the photographs displayed from the collection captured the whole breath of wartime experience.

The photographs displayed captured both moments of intense wartime activity, as well as moments of downtime, waiting and preparing, which Webster, a veteran himself, explained makes up more than half of a soldier’s time while overseas.

“The photos really speak for themselves,” Webster said. “But we tried our best to match the images, to create and design scenes by placing groups of certain images together.”

The exhibit featured 50 individual images taken by 30 photojournalists whose photographs, alongside mini biographies of each, were also showcased as part of the show.

Both civilian and military photojournalists are represented, as well as three Pulitzer Prize winners.

During the opening reception, Webster commented on the importance of students viewing images of this subject matter.

“This is meant for students with little or no first-hand awareness of these events. That’s why I put the effort in to bring the exhibition to UNH,” he said

UNH junior Gabrielle Scibetta agreed, saying that she was overcome with a lot of emotion when first walking into the museum, but felt that more young people and students need to see and experience the exhibit.

“I know that people don’t like war, war is ugly, war is terrible, but that doesn’t mean they need to turn away from what did happen, from what is happening,” Scibetta said.

Manchester resident and photography teacher, Linda Varney, was so taken by the material represented in the exhibit that she decided to bring her photo class to the museum later this week. She feels it is important to expose her students to real life events such as this.

“When something like this is printed, it almost has double the impact because you can’t turn away from it. On a screen on a computer you can do that, but you can’t do that with this, you have to confront it,” Varney said.

“Some students, I told them, ‘it’s going to be hard for you to look at it, it’s going to be hard for you to turn away from it.’ But you know you have to do it, you have to expose kids to things like this.”

Conflict Zone will be displayed in the University Museum until March 6, open Monday-Friday, 12-4 p.m., and Tuesdays 12-8 p.m.

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