College exhibit to show at Legislature |

College exhibit to show at Legislature

by Amy Roby

Amy Roby

Western Nevada College’s acclaimed creative writing/photographic exhibition, “Always Lost: A Meditation on War,” will be on display in the Nevada Legislative Building’s second-floor atrium on weekdays from Wednesday to May 3.

An opening ceremony for the exhibit is planned 1 p.m. Wednesday. It will include a presentation of the colors and sounding of taps, with remarks by Carson City Mayor Robert Crowell; Nevada Senate Majority Leader Moises Denis; Nevada Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick; and Nevada Office of Veterans Services Executive Director Caleb Cage.

The exhibit is free and will be open to the public on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Hours may be extended if the Legislature is in session after regular business hours; inquiries regarding extended hours may be directed to (775)684-6800.

“Always Lost: A Meditation on War” began as a creative writing class assignment at WNC in 2009, based upon Sociology Professor Don Carlson’s observation that the Iraq and Afghanistan wars were perhaps the most impersonal that the United States has ever fought. This developed into a long-term effort by English Professor Marilee Swirczek and her students to personalize the costs of war through words and images. I was a student in that creative writing class and now work as project manager for the exhibition.

The exhibition offers a sacred space to contemplate those personal and collective costs of war. The heart of the exhibition is the Wall of the Dead, which depicts the faces and names of the more than 6,500 service men and women who have died in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom since Sept. 11, 2001.

The images, combined with writings by the students and other Northern Nevadans, and Pulitzer Prize-winning combat photos used with permission from The Dallas Morning News, comprise the exhibit. It also includes a study of SPC Noah Pierce, an Iraq war veteran who took his own life after serving two combat tours. Interviews with WNC student veterans represent the thousands of service members who are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

The exhibit that will show at the Legislature is newly replicated, thanks to a gift from Carson Nugget/Community First. This newly created exhibition will make its debut at the Legislature. A second exhibit is currently on display at the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point, the 14th venue for the nationally touring exhibition.

WNC Professor Emeritus Swirczek says, “We are humbled to share the exhibition, which has been called ‘a national treasure,’ with our honorable legislators as well as with our community,” she said. “We know that the exhibition, in their care, will be beautiful and meaningful.”

Always Lost appears in conjunction with SENarts, a partnership among the Nevada Senate, Nevada Arts Council, and Nevada Division of Museums. The partnership includes arts competitions, programs, and a campaign to build the Senate’s permanent arts collection.

Amy Roby can be reached at