Conflict: Works on Paper

I’ll be showing two drawings at Conflict: Works on Paper, the thirty-fourth annual national exhibition at the Brand Gallery in Glendale, California.

In this post I’d like to focus on one of the drawings I’ll be exhibiting, Voices of Justice, a large chalk pastel work commissioned in 1989 by the Guatemalan Information Center (GIC.) The GIC was an organization of émigrés who escaped the war in their country during the 1980’s, and they printed my artwork as a full color poster announcing their “Guatemalan Human Rights Tribunal.” The historic event was held in the Council Chambers of Los Angeles City Hall in 1989.

“Voices of Justice” Mark Vallen. Chalk pastel. 1989. 3 ½’ x 5.’

The 1989 LA City Hall event was an extraordinary occasion where Guatemalan clergy, labor union activists, representatives of indigenous peoples, and human rights workers, gathered at the government building to inform Americans about the situation in war torn Guatemala.

Hundreds of people attended and were provided with eyewitness accounts of the horrors then occurring in the Central American nation. I worked closely with the Guatemalan refugee community during the creation of my pastel drawing, and they advised me on many of the details I depicted – even the colors and weave of the textiles I portrayed.

My exiled friends told me their stories of bravery and sorrow and assured me I had succeeded in capturing their reality. It was a great honor to have my original drawing on display in City Hall during the 1989 tribunal.

Conflict: Works on Paper, opens Dec. 3, 2006 and runs until Jan. 20, 2006. The Artist’s Reception and awards ceremony takes place on Saturday, Dec., 3rd, from 5 to 7 pm. The Brand Art Gallery is located in Glendale, CA.

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