Exhibition: Man’s Inhumanity to Man

Drawing by Mark Vallen

[ Meanwhile... in Guatemala - Mark Vallen. 1988. Pencil on paper 10" x 14". Exhibited at Man's Inhumanity to Man. Military death squads were responsible for torturing and murdering tens of thousands of civilians during Guatemala’s 36-year long civil war. By the time the conflict ended in 1996, some 200,000 civilians had been killed. In 1999 the U.N. backed Guatemalan Commission for Historical Clarification found Guatemala’s army responsible for 93% of the atrocities and killings committed during the war, with 83% of the victims being Mayan Indians. ]

I exhibited a suite of four black and white drawings at Man’s Inhumanity to Man: Journey out of Darkness, an exhibition that took place at the Brand Library Art Gallery & Art Center in Glendale, California, from April to May, 2009. Forty four artists participated in the group show, which examined human rights violations that have occurred around the globe - the 1915 Armenian genocide, the Jewish Holocaust, repression in Central America, current atrocities in Darfur, and more.

Azalea Iñiguez of Telemundo T52 - the Los Angeles affiliate of the second largest Spanish-language TV network in the U.S., interviewed me on her show - Cambiando el Mundo (Changing the World) for a segment about my works at the Brand exhibit. Originally broadcast on May 6, 2009, you can now watch a streaming video of the interview at the Telemundo website.

Drawing by Mark Vallen

[ We are afraid - Mark Vallen. 1987. Pencil on paper 11 1/2" x 12". Exhibited at Man's Inhumanity to Man. During the wars of the 1980s, children in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua were being killed by the tens of thousands. Infant mortality skyrocketed due to aerial bomb attack, mortar rounds, mines, and general gunfire. The children suffered the most, and it is to them that I dedicated this drawing. ]

During the 1980s I created a number of artworks that depicted civilians caught up in the wars that swept the Central American nations of Nicaragua, Guatemala, and El Salvador. Hundreds of thousands of people were tortured, maimed or killed during that bloody decade, and many more escaped the carnage for safety and asylum in the United States. The very face of Los Angeles was changed by the enormous influx of war refugees. The four drawings I presented at the Brand Library Gallery represent just a small portion of my body of work from that period.

Drawing by Mark Vallen

[ Enough! - Mark Vallen. 1988. Pencil on paper 15" x 16". Exhibited at Man's Inhumanity to Man. Outraged over the slaughter of civilians by Central America’s brutal military regimes in the 1980s, I was motivated to create this universal condemnation of war. ]

As is often the case with history, momentous events reverberate through time. Echoes of Central America’s recent past continue to have resonance today. In the aftermath of the region’s wars a number of important disclosures have come to light. For instance, in March of this year The National Security Archives located at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., published newly declassified documents from the U.S. State Department. The Associated Press reported that the documents confirmed “The U.S. government knew that top Guatemalan officials it supported with arms and cash were behind the disappearance of thousands of people during a 36-year civil war.”

Also in March, Reuters reported that “Guatemala’s biggest mass grave may give up its secrets this year when bodies from a massacre during the 1960-1996 civil war are exhumed after decades of mystery. Around 1,000 bodies in a mass grave at the La Verbena cemetery are thought to be the victims of extra judicial killings by the army and police during some of the most violent years of the conflict.”

Sometimes facts can be hidden or obscured for many decades, if they come to light at all. But no matter the circumstances, certain artists will always document situations ignored and left unseen by mainstream society - that in part is the power of art.

I spoke at the Brand Gallery on Saturday, April 18, as part of an artist’s public forum, the roundtable including artists Poli Marichal, Arpine Shakhbandaryan, Sophia Gasparian, Lark, and Hessam Abrishami. Man’s Inhumanity to Man ran at the Brand Library Gallery, from April 4, 2009, to May 8, 2009. The gallery is located at 1601 West Mountain Street, Glendale, California 91201-1200. (Click here for a map) Hours: Tue/Thu 12 - 8 p.m.; Wed 12 - 6 p.m.; Fri/Sat 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

View a large image of the artwork - Meanwhile in Guatemala
View a large image of the artwork - We Are Afraid
View a large image of the artwork - Enough
Related artwork - We’re Making a Killing in Central America

One Response to “Exhibition: Man’s Inhumanity to Man”

  1. [...] the Brand Library Art Gallery & Art Center in Glendale, California, during the gallery’s Man’s Inhumanity to Man exhibit (April-May); and at Avenue 50 Studio’s 365 & Counting exhibit (November-December). [...]