Art students, professors take their Peace Project to ROTC’s doorstep

Daily Sundial

Students and professors from five classes in the Art Department made a visual statement about peace and the military with their installation of physically altered small green army men yesterday in front of the ROTC bungalow on Plummer Street.

Several students stopped on their way to class in front of the bungalow, which is near Sagebrush Hall, and watched as others involved in the Peace Project sat on the sidewalk building an environment for their newly transformed non-soldiers.

Other participants stood in the dirt and used sticks as shovels in an attempt to make waterways to connect one miniature community to another.

The once-green army men were transformed by students in the Art 100, 380, 385 and 400 classes into a colorful assortment of “peaceful creatures” in various forms of interaction as their first major project for the new school year.

In an e-mail sent out prior to the event, organizers said students were not allowed to cut off the rifles and guns on the army men, “but had to transform them into other things: things that don’t kill.”

“Normally, we end with a big extravaganza,” said art Professor Edie Pistolesi. “This year we began (with one).”

According to Pistolesi, who initiated the project with the assistance of Professor Pam Huth, Professor Violetta Blunt, and Graduate Assistant Cory Pohlnan, all from the Art Department, the Peace Project was partly inspired by Cindy Sheehan, a woman who has in recent weeks led an anti-Iraq war movement following the death of her son. Organizers said her strong stand against the war played into their project.

Students in Huth’s Art 100 class contributed to the project by transforming their army men into workers pursuing jobs that real U.S. soldiers might pursue when they return home. The students used paint, feathers and a product called “sculpty” to cover and transform weapons into peaceful items, like guitars or surfboards.

“It was hard to transform them,” said Alin Hamalian, psychology major. “But it was cool.”

Originally scheduled for Sept. 20, but postponed due to rain, students started to set up the Peace Project at 8 a.m. Sept. 27, and continued well into the day.

“A lot (of students) decided to leave their figures in installation because the installation became more important then their figures,” Pistolesi said.

The students involved in the Peace Project hand-crafted four soldiers into non-soldiers. An entire village was represented, complete with lakes, rivers, a yellow brick road, and displays made of all natural products, such as sticks, leaves and rocks.

Words carved in the sand such as “Peace” stood out among the various dwellings made possible by sand of different colors.

“It kind of makes you realize that the soldiers that are fighting for us have dreams just like we do and hopefully there will be optimism now once they get back,” said Mineli Grigourian, marketing major, who participated with her class in the project.

Mary-Alexandra Andrusco can be reached at city@sundial.csun.edu.