Second generation A-bomb survivor holds peace art exhibition at U.N. Headquarters

by Kyosuke Mizukawa, Staff Writer

Masaru Tanaka, 39, a contemporary artist and a second generation A-bomb survivor living in Hiroshima, will hold an exhibition on the theme of the abolition of nuclear weapons at U.N. Headquarters in New York from August 11 to September 6. The purpose of the exhibition is to build momentum for nuclear abolition in the run-up to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference to be held at the headquarters in May 2010.

The exhibition will feature five pieces jointly created between 2001 and 2007 by Mr. Tanaka and Betsie Miller-Kusz, 64, an American painter and the daughter of a researcher involved in the Manhattan Project which developed the atomic bombs. The two artists create their work by combining the landscape photographs taken by Mr. Tanaka with dream-like paintings by Ms. Kusz. The work expresses “a wish for peace” through overcoming the differences of nationality, with one artist from the country that dropped the bombs and the other from the A-bombed nation.

A piece called “Mother,” which is one meter high and two meters wide and shows the skyline of downtown New York in the background, was created in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. In the piece, the “spirit of earth” offers the world to the Statue of Liberty, suggesting that the United States is entrusted with the mission of building peace as well as abolishing nuclear weapons.

Mr. Tanaka’s father was exposed to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in the western part of the city, at a distance of 2.5 kilometers from the hypocenter. Mr. Tanaka met Ms. Kusz at an art exhibition held in the United States in 1998, leading to their collaboration. Eyeing the NPT review conference, they submitted an exhibition proposal to the United Nations and, at the end of May, received a positive reply encouraging them to hold an exhibition with a strong message of peace and opposition to nuclear weapons.

Mr. Tanaka, who will stay in New York during the month of August, looks forward to interacting with visitors at the exhibition. “I hope the exhibition will strengthen the momentum for nuclear abolition, which has grown since Barack Obama took office,” he said.

(Originally published on July 30, 2009)