Posts tagged with "WWII"

Women Comic Artists are Here #VISIBLEWOMEN

by: Jamia Garrett

On August 5th, 2021 thousands of women took to twitter to share their art portfolios with potential clients and the public using the hashtag #VISIBLEWOMEN. Originally, the tag was targeted at sequential artists by Kelly Sue DeConnick, to shed light to the fact that women in comic art are present in the world and are doing an amazing job at it. The hashtag eventually grew to include women from all artistic fields making the tag a space for creative women from all backgrounds to share pieces themselves to grow their audience. The comic art industry, like so many others is typically a cis-male dominated space with women instead making up a large percentage of children’s and YA graphic novels.

This hashtag was an act of protest due to the fact that women in this field are often overlooked and underrepresented. They are instead passed over for their male counterparts and, like in any field, paid significantly less. In 2018, from July-December both Marvel and DC Comics ran a study on their credited creators. During those months DC Comics released 391 new comics. Only 17.2% of the credited staff were women. Marvel Comics released 486 new comics with only 16.3% of their credited creators being women. These percentages don’t include the considerably small amount of non-Binary creators included.

It doesn’t help that people in this field are freelancers. This means they don’t have to be provided healthcare by the companies they’re freelancing for. Women freelancers with extensive resumes are often overlooked for males with half of their experience leading women to pursue different revenue streams in addition to their comic art. The harassment is another factor which alienates women from keeping a career in comics. Women in the industry have been harassed out of jobs by their peers and by “fans” of those comics determined to keep the industry from evolving. There are noted examples of this happening in major comic companies. There have even been allegations of sexual abuse by men of power in the industry.

Ms. Marvel writer Willow Wilson previously spoke about how hard it was for women to gain professional experience. She said there was a “casting couch” atmosphere to navigating the industry if you were a woman, while men had a very different experience. Men were submitted to the regular trials of networking, knowing the right people and having an ounce of talent.

Historically women with big roles have even been blocked out from conversations in and about the industry. Marie Severin, for example, played a vital part in shaping Marvel Comics into what it is today and still felt left out of conversations while in meetings with men. She acknowledged the “boys club” exists, even in this trade. Marie started out her career as a colorist for EC Comics where it was said by her male peers that she kept the sexualization of female characters from going too far. While there, she was known for using one color on a page, a technique used to put emphasis on the action in a scene that is still used today.

The first documented piece of published sequential art was done by Rose O’Neil in 1896. It was added to a book done by cartoonist Trina Robbins, a notable founder of the underground comic scene who made it her mission to uncover buried women cartoonists. While men were away during WWII women were able to work as comic artists, writing adventure and romance comics only to be replaced by men as they returned home from the war. This erased the legacy that so many women had built for themselves and in some, if not most, cases reduced them to housewives.  Trina Robbins was also openly critical of the sexualization of women in comic production. She’s noted for criticizing work done by Robert Crumbs, being one of few to comment on his choice to display sexual violence against women in a joking manner.

Bottom line, we need this representation in the comic and art world. When women are left out it leads to men being the voice in the room and the unrealistic portrayals of women in them. #VISIBLEWOMEN is encouraging all women to be seen in a space that celebrates and acknowledges their contributions to the art world. With the hashtag animators, 2D artists, concept artists, jewelry makers, and others have the potential to be scouted for their talent and to shape the future of art. This hashtag is part of a longer and deeper legacy for inclusion in the art world. Women make up just about half of comic fans and less than a quarter of women are employed by major comic companies today.

World Art Day illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

World Art Day Travels

In honor of World Art Day on April 15, 2021, here are some of the best destinations and hotels for curated art experiences from around the world. Whether it be an outdoor mural scene, a hotel’s private art collection, an artist-in-residence program, or new exhibits scattered throughout a country, there are many ways to celebrate World Art Day! And while safe travel may not be possible yet for everyone, virtual experiences are a great way to show appreciation and support. 

DOMESTIC

Hamilton Princess & Beach Club – Hamilton, Bermuda

Known as “The Pink Palace” from its iconic pastel exterior since 1885, it’s the interior of Hamilton Princess that is inside the hotel that makes it fit for royalty. A little-known secret is that the property is home to one of the most comprehensive contemporary art collections in the world. The vast and ever-evolving collection has an estimated multi-million dollar value. There really is no other resort where you can see an 18 ft tall KAWS sculpture or an original Banksy up close. Hamilton Princess has created the Escape Artist Package which includes a private tour of the contemporary art collection including pieces by Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, Takashi Murakami, Banksy, KAWS, Julian Opie, Yayoi Kusama, and Ai Wei Wei ,  complimentary passes to the island’s art museums with private tours upon request, complimentary Twizy electric car rental to get to and from the museums, and an assortment of art-inspired amenities and gifts, including a limited edition Mari Andrew print. 

St. Pete/Clearwater

Quickly becoming a museum mecca with 30+ museums in the destination, downtown St. Pete also boasts over 500 outdoor murals created by local and international artists throughout the hip Central Arts District. The newest additions are showcased during the annual mural festival SHINE St. Pete and can be experienced with a guided walking tour. This alfresco art experience has also been modified for COVID-19 safety as travelers can now discover them independently with this comprehensive, ever-growing list and through the app, PixelStix. And not to be forgotten, the most popular museum in the destination, The Dalí Museum, will continue to host the immersive Van Gogh Alive exhibit through June 13, 2021. The exhibition features more than 3,000 Van Gogh images at an enormous scale, viewed through high-definition projectors and synchronized to a powerful classical score. Advanced-purchase, timed-tickets are required to visit. 

Providence, Rhode Island

Known as Rhode Island’s creative capital, Providence is one of the country’s most diverse and vibrant cities for the arts, due in large part as the home to The Rhode Island of School of Design (RISD) which cultivates a creative community. Providence’s artistic offerings are best experienced on foot via Avenue Concept, Rhode Island’s first privately funded public art program. They offer two self-guided tours offering comprehensive stops with dozens of murals and sculptures to visit in Downtown and South Side/West End. As of August, a new latinx-led public art banner project honoring the healthcare workers who have helped manage the COVID-19 crisis has launched throughout the city. 

New Orleans – The National WWII Museum

The National WWII Museum’s newest special exhibit “SOLDIER | ARTIST: Trench Art in World War II” explores the unique military pastime of creating art, souvenirs and tools out of the discarded materials and waste of war. Featuring more than 150 artifacts, many of which have never been exhibited, the collection also includes a background on the creators, providing a rare glimpse into the circumstances of war and the ingenuity and resourcefulness of servicemembers in the field. Such items range from souvenirs, such as ashtrays and jewelry made by servicemembers for their loved ones at home, to forbidden items like radios and musical instruments made by prisoners of war. The exhibition will be open to the public through January 2, 2022.

Daxton Hotel (Birmingham, MI) 

Opening in April 2021, Daxton Hotel features a monochromatic palette in rich, saturated color to showcase avant-garde lighting and furniture in bold shapes. This backdrop is juxtaposed with an art collection of over 400 pieces curated from across the world by Saatchi Art. The thoughtful collection is inspired by the street art found throughout the city of nearby Detroit and reflects the movement and energy of Motor City’s local scene. In addition to the distinctive art originating from across the world including Peru, Macedonia and South Korea, each guestroom is outfitted with a custom headboard backdrop from local floral muralist, Ouizi. Art in public spaces includes the restaurant Madam’s large-scale painting series of 12’ portraits in a feminine, a suspended wire installation in the conference room encouraging dialogue, a full-sized mechanical horse and 9’ pink metallic bunny. Art tours for the building are offered the first Friday of the month, providing the opportunity to engage and experience some of the Daxton Hotel’s significant works. 

The MC Hotel – Montclair, NJ

Located just 45 minutes outside of NYC, the 159 room MC Hotel is at the intersection of culture and community in the heart of Montclair’s thriving artistic community. With art curated from established and up-and-coming artists in every room, the hotel is part art gallery, part meeting place. Currently on display are pieces from painters Ryan Chin and Siona Benjamin-Kruge as well as mixed-media artist Basia Goszczynska to name a few. At guest check-in, travelers will be met by a sculpture of a flower from Karen Kimmel that stretches across two walls. The sculpture features textiles that were meticulously hand-punched then painted onsite. On the lobby wall of the bar, guests will see a sculpture from Goszczynska which is made from salvaged oyster farming bags, marine rope and steel wire. He also continues this unique interpretation of upcycling to shelves of the bar which displays Rainbow Collections, a piece featuring crowdsourced microplastics and salvaged baby food jars.

Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa – Atlantic City, NJ

Within a two-hour drive of New York and an hour drive of Philadelphia, head toward the Las Vegas of the East Coast known for its bustling boardwalk, glitzy high-rise resorts, five-star restaurants, four-mile-long boardwalk, and six-mile-long beach. In search of an indulgent escape, this fast-paced resort is an art lover’s dream. Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa features numerous extravagant glass sculptures that seem to drip effortlessly from the ceiling and rise majestically from the resort’s floor. Those colorful works of art are none other than world-famous Chihuly glass, created by master craftsman Dale Chihuly, and some of our guests come to our resort just to take in the signature pieces by the American artist. Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa houses a number of stunning Chihuly pieces across the property, from the main entrance of the casino to the corridor connecting Borgata to The Water Club. Take a look at the gallery of Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa’s Chihuly, and the next time you visit, play a game of trying to find all of the signature artwork throughout the resort. As the artist himself one said, “Glass has the ability, more than any other material, to bring joy and a certain happiness to people.” Chihuly, who was born in Washington in 1941, has had countless exhibitions of his work across the globe, from Venice to London to the Netherlands, and blew his own glass until he had a tragic car accident in 1976. Afterwards, due to challenges with his eyesight, Chihuly began serving as a director of a team of artists, who have created hundreds of massive glass installations found in buildings across the globe. 

Fitler Club, Philadelphia, PA

Fitler Club is Philadelphia’s ultimate “work/stay/play” destination, where hotel guests are granted exclusive access to all the club’s amenities for the duration of their stay. The club encompasses 136,000 square feet and includes a world-class gym and spa, a 14-room boutique hotel (The Rooms at Fitler Club), collaborative workspace (Offsite), indoor pool and a movie theater. Art lovers will enjoy the Fitler Club’s Collection, which has works by famous artists featured throughout the property. The collection includes pieces by Damien Hirst, Alex Katz, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Pamela Hanson, Mel Bochner and more. Fitler Club’s Artist In Residence program, bringing the work of Philadelphia artists, acclaimed and up-and-coming, to people’s everyday lives. Fitler Club assembled a vast collection by local artists, within a non-traditional gallery space that is Offsite, Fitler Club’s expansive workspace. Artists include King Saladeen, Eileen Neff, Elizabeth Osborn and more. Each of the artworks are on loan by the artists and every piece is for sale. In addition, those who are unable to visit the gallery in person can still enjoy the collection through an interactive virtual experience on the club’s website, which gives information on each piece located throughout the property. 

California

California is gearing up for a culturally enriching year, as various art happenings are slated to open throughout 2021. Peppered across the state, here are some key art events that visitors may enjoy for a uniquely artistic and local experience, showcasing the history and vibrancy of California:

  • Desert X + Outdoor Art in Greater Palm Springs: The third installment of the internationally acclaimed biennial art exhibition, Desert X, returns in 2021, starting March 12 through May 16. The 2021 artist lineup includes a diverse group of 13 artists ranging from locals like Kim Stringfellow to international representatives like Zahrah Alghamdi. Visitors can explore these new outdoor art installations across the desert region for an exciting socially distant experience. While in the region, be sure to check out the region’s booming art scene by walking or driving through various neighborhoods to check out artworks like the “PS I Love You” Sculpture, permanent pieces created for Coachella Music Festival, like “Etherea” and more. Find additional outdoor art in the Greater Palm Springs area here
  • The Oakland Museum of California (OMCA): The OMCA will unveil its newly refreshed garden and outdoor amphitheater space in spring 2021 as part of its multi-phased campus improvement project. This beautiful renovation will include updated outdoor sculptures, revitalized landscaping with native California plantings, new ADA accessible ramps and a permanent stage for outdoor performances- encompassing the Bay Area’s natural beauty. 
  • Santa Barbara Museum of Art:The Santa Barbara Museum of Art will reveal a new, multi-floor wing in spring 2021 that will be home to new photography and contemporary art galleries, as well as renovated galleries, as part of its multi- year, $50 million renovation. The museum hired Kupiec Architects’ Bob Kupiec, who is known for his projects at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Times Square, Bryant Park and more. 
  • Carmel Mission:To mark Carmel Mission’s upcoming 250th anniversary, the Carmel Mission Foundation is renovating the Mission’s main entrance and restoring a 100-year-old adobe museum that sits adjacent to the renowned Basilica. Additionally, The Harry Downie Museum at Carmel Mission is also planned to open in October 2021, showcasing “the Evolution of Carmel Mission” photography exhibit.
  • San Francisco Music Hall of Fame:Slated for this spring, the halls of the music-themed Music City Hotel will feature a gallery of transcendent local musicians including a curated collection of photographs from Getty Images, The San Francisco Chronicle and numerous local, respected photographers. A dozen local and national music writers were hired to create original one-of-a-kind gallery text that accompanies each photo. Visitors can listen to a playlist of songs by artists featured in the gallery, which includes a guided audio tour with local DJ Mike Waterman.

Texas

The art in Texas is top notch, specifically noting the art of the major cities along with other safe havens for creatives such as Marfa and which have recently gained traction. A few examples of the major cities and more of the unknown include: 

  • San Angelo, an oasis in West Texas off the beaten path, has quickly grown as a Texas art hub, with a lot of the art outdoors and accessible to the community at all times. Highlights like the Chicken Farm Art Center, where local artists are set up in refurbished farm buildings, as well as Paintbrush Alley, where over 50 artists have donated their time to create artwork in the downtown alley, are stand-alone destinations worth checking out when in San Angelo. Lastly, the Pop Art Museum which is also outdoor murals has been positively received by the community, with 31 pieces done by local artists throughout a former bowling alley, including a piece from James Gill who worked directly with Andy Warhol at the forefront of the Pop Art movement. 
  • The diversity and affordability of Houston has created an internationally acclaimed art scene, home to graffiti parks, modern museums and everything in between. Highlights include: 
  • James Turrell’s Skyspace Structure, an interactive installation which will test your perception of light and color. Wednesday through Monday weekly, the “Twilight Epiphany” sequence will take place, changing colors of lights from the built-in LED system. Guests can peer through the roof’s square-shaped aperture and into the darkening sky. Admission is free and seat reservation can be made in advance
  • Sawyer Yards, a creative campus located in Houston’s historic First Ward is set in a working train yard and made its home in a former industrial complex with several rice silos at the complex’s center. On the second Saturday of each month, the warehouses are open to the public allowing for individuals to meet the artists and explore their work, varying from paintings to sculptures to jewelry. 
  • Many people don’t often think of Dallas as an art-centric destination, but the cosmopolitan city is home to the largest contiguous urban arts district in the nation. Though to experience art in Dallas one never has to enter a gallery; during a quick trek through any of the city’s walkable neighborhoods murals and iconic sculptures will reveal themselves. Here are a few:
  • Fair Park is home to many well-known works of public art, but the Crystal Chandelier at the Music Hall, by artist William Martin is often cited as a favorite.
  • Dallas City Hall Plaza boasts the large bronze sculpture The Dallas Piece by renowned British sculptor Henry Moore. It was given to the City in 1978 by W.R. Hawn in memory of his wife.
  • Deep Ellum is known for its eye-catching murals. The murals give life to otherwise mundane walls and buildings and reflect the life and times of the residents. As a result, Deep Ellum has evolved into its own exhibition of sorts and visitors have enjoyed exploring and discovering them all. Click here for a look at some of the murals and this map provides directions.

Sensei Lāna’i, A Four Seasons Resort

Set within the secluded island’s 90,000 acres, Sensei Lāna’i, A Four Seasons Resort is a one-of-a-kind wellness retreat, founded by Larry Ellison and Dr. David Agus, with the goal of helping people live longer healthier lives. At the heart of the retreat is the Sensei Way, which distills preventive health science, data and research into three simple paths for everyday living: move, nourish, and rest. These principles go beyond just healthy eating and exercise, encouraging guests to nourish their mind, body and soul, starting with an extensive art collection that inspires a creative spirit and enhances relaxation. With design envisioned by Todd-Avery Lenahan of TAL-Studio, the resort blends a sense of seclusion with wide open spaces surrounded by the forests in the spiritual uplands of Lāna’i. Intentionally placed among expansive garden foliage, the retreat houses a premier outdoor sculpture garden that includes larger-than-life pieces from renowned artists like Botero, Plensa, Lobo and more. As guests venture further, Ju Ming’s “Tai Chi Arch” opens to an onsen garden and Robert Indiana’s iconic “Imperial LOVE” sculpture ignites a sense of joy and rejuvenation. The artwork throughout the hotel was commissioned expressly for the retreat and here, art-loving guests will encounter these pieces for the very first time, stimulating thought and reflection. Other featured artists include David Ellis, Miya Ando, Haure Shimomoto, Sky Pape, Brooks Shane Salzwedel and Lauren Collin.


Rapid City, South Dakota

In the small town of Rapid City, South Dakota, where there’s no shortage of bucket list outdoor art experiences, you’ll find Art Alley,a functioning alley that was transformed into a place for artists to create and share their work with the public. The walls are covered in pieces from local artists, many anonymous, and are constantly changing as new works pop up, providing a new experience every visit. Before this area became known as Art Alley, local artists used to hang canvas artworks on the walls and eventually this evolved into painting murals. It wasn’t until a group of passionate artists and community members worked with city officials to nurture this organic art form into the Art Alley we know today. Other art-centric experiences in Rapid City include the City of Presidents, a collection of life-size bronze sculptures of past presidents placed along the city’s streets and sidewalks, the Dahl Arts Center and more.

Hewing Hotel(Minneapolis, MN)

Since opening its doors in 2016 the 124-room luxury lifestyle hotel has provided an unmistakable all-Minnesotan experience in the bustling North Loop neighborhood of Minneapolis. The former farm implements showroom and warehouse built in 1897 has been reborn as a cultural center for the community retaining its original brick and timber rustic charm. Immersing guests in Minneapolis, the hotel offers unique experiences with Minnesotan flair such as a monthly music series, Alley KAT! Perkins Pop Up Concert in the adjacent alley with season 6 The Voice semi-finalist Kat Perkins. The visual art of the area is on display through regularly rotating installations of local artists. The current collection includes works from Minneapolis-based artists Roko and Toni Gallo reflecting the beauty and talent within the area. 

INTERNATIONAL

Costa Rica

Mesoamerican, South American and Indigenous influences are reflected in Costa Rica’s rich art history and colorful culture. Visitors can explore Costa Rica’s capital city and cultural hub of San José which is home to some of the country’s most important art museums, consisting of diverse collections of painting, drawing, sculpture, pottery, wood carvings and more. 

  • Museo de Arte Costarricense: The Costa Rican Art Museum offers free admission and boasts a permanent fine arts collection of over 6,000 pieces from Costa Rican artists, spanning almost two centuries. One of the most intriguing displays at the museum is the outdoor sculpture garden, where visitors can see works by renowned Costa Rican artists like Jorge Jiménez Deredia, Edgar and Francisco Zuñiga, José Sancho and Max Jiménez. 
  • Museo de Arte y Diseño Contemporáneo: Costa Rica’s Museum of Contemporary Art and Design (MADC) is situated on the site of the country’s old national liquor factory. MADC has four exhibition rooms for rotating and permanent collections of contemporary hispanic art, an auditorium and an open-air terrace for performances and events. There are approximately 900 pieces housed in the museum’s permanent collections. Currently on display at MADC is the “Inferno Tropical” special exhibition, which consists of works by six Latin American women artists from Costa Rica, Cuba, Venezuela, Panama and Brazil. Inferno Tropical is part of a series of exhibitions called “Female Voices of Latin America,” representing the largest mega-exhibition of living Latin American women artists in recent times.

Dominica

Presented by The Waitukubuli Artist Association (WAA) “WhoOosh!! 2” virtual exhibit is the first of its kind in Dominica, showcasing photography, sculptures and paintings created by local artists. The exhibit was filmed using a 360° camera in the abandoned Roseau Anglican Church, which was devastated by Hurricane Maria in 2017. The exhibit is an immersive experience that allows the audience to experience this real place from afar. Just like in a video game, virtual attendees can look around in any direction, interact with objects and people and examine the art up close. The exhibition is themed around the impacts that recent hurricanes have had on the artists’ way of life, interpreting their very own experience of resilience in various artistic forms. To attend, head to kubuliarts.com.

Victoria, Australia

With its brightly-colored bustling laneways, world-class theater district and inspiring art and cultural museums, Melbourne is a city fit to fulfill any art-lovers dreams. The city’s laneways are works of art in themselves while also leading inquisitive city strollers into quirky bars, old-school restaurants and hipster eateries, and hidden art galleries where there’s even more art to absorb. Those looking for a grander stage can find jaw-dropping performances in Melbourne’s theater and musical stages like the Princess Theater and Her Majesty’s Theatre in the East End Theatre District, or the inventive Malthouse Theatre. Melbourne’s art museums span the gamut – from Aboriginal art at the Birrarung Gallery or Ian Potter Centre, to modern and contemporary art at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art or National Gallery of Victoria. When it comes to art – whether it be public, modern, Aborginal or performance – there’s always something inspiring to view in Melbourne, Australia.

Argentina

Known as South America’s capital of culture, Buenos Aires, Argentina, was appointed as UNESCO’s first City of Design with the opening of the Metropolitan Design Center.  Not only that, but the city was also the birthplace of Tango, which first originated in Buenos Aires dance halls in the 1880s. Now, travelers can witness world-class tango each year during the city’s International Tango Festival and World Cup. In 2013, Argentinian artist Alfredo Segatori painted what was then the longest mural in the world, located in Barracas. And, finally, if you didn’t need more artistic inspiration to visit this lively city, Buenos Aires also hosts the world’s most important collections of Latin American art. The Museum of Latin American Art is home to the Fundación Costantini art collection which consists of 400+ masterpieces including paintings, sculptures, photography, and engravings by famous 20-century Latin American artists. 

Kaelen Felix Illustrates a Healthcare Article for 360 MAGAZINE

Roderic Pettigrew × Vannevar Bush Award

On Monday, the National Science Board announced that Roderic Pettigrew will be presented with the Vannevar Bush Award, which is considered one of the nation’s highest science awards. It honors lifelong science and technology leaders who have made exceptional contributions to the welfare of the nation through public service in science and technology and in shaping public policy.

“Roderic Pettigrew’s passion and creativity have spurred innovation in biomedicine,” said Victor McCrary, Vice Chair of the National Science Board and Chair of the 2020 NSB Honorary Awards Subcommittee. “His reimagining of healthcare solutions is helping converge science fields, narrowing gaps between disciplines in a way that really impacts society. Pettigrew is helping us to see what might be, what could be, and what is possible.”

Pettigrew’s contributions are wide-ranging and include:

  • His service as the founding director of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) at the National Institutes of Health.
  • His advanced treatment for spinal injuries that enabled some chronically paralyzed men to regain voluntary muscle movement and sensory function.
  • His use of radiation in cancer treatments.
  • His work to use MRI to image the beating heart and quantify blood flow.
  • His establishment of a partnership with the Indian government to develop cuff-less blood pressure measurement, along with other low cost diagnostic and therapeutic technologies.

Pettigrew’s work also involved bringing out the best in others. While at NIH created the Quantum Grants Program to encourage researchers to undertake “medical moon shots” to solve major challenges through technological innovation.

Pettigrew continues to help others archive greatness at Texas A&M, where he helped found EnMed in Houston. The program blends engineering and medicine in a 4-year curriculum to develop problem-solving “physicianeers;” graduates who earn a medical degree and a master’s degree in education. Plus, they must invent a solution to a healthcare problem that is ready for a patent.

“It is an incredible honor to receive the Vannevar Bush Award, which is so steeped in science history,” Pettigrew said. “My only regret is that my parents are not alive to share this honor. They were my first role models.”

We as a nation should thank and honor the work Pettigrew has done for the medical field, and the Vannevar Bush Award is a good place to start.

360 Magazine, In Full Bloom

In Full Bloom

In Full Bloom – Award-winning, indie boxing feature

Written & Directed by Adam VillaSeñor and Reza Ghassemi

After the U.S. and Japan’s battle in WWII, Masahiro and Clint train past their limits to prepare for a long-awaited international fighting match. The film tracks these two tough, complex characters as their powerful motives parallel the overarching tension between the two nations, still in manifestation succeeding the war. The high-contrast and dark color tones within In Full Bloom’s cinematography drives the relentless emotional and physical struggles that face both characters.

360 Magazine

Ben Wyckoff Shore’s Debut Novel

International Red Cross Founder’s Story Shows Health Workers’ Heroism & Humanity by Ben Wyckoff Shore

Have you heard of Henri Dunant? If not, it’s okay. The happy few who can identify Henri Dunant as the founder of the Red Cross movement are usually the Trivial Pursuit aficionados. 

But in the midst of today’s crisis, Dunant‘s life is worth recalling in more depth than a general knowledge board game answer as his contribution to humanity is far from trivial. His is a story of humanity in a moment of crisis and acute trauma.  Inspired and driven by the trauma he witnessed, we come to the origin story of the Red Cross Movement.

Born in 1828 to a wealthy but pious family in Geneva, Dunant had a childhood filled with bible reading and alms giving. Even after growing up and learning the trade of the financier he managed to stay bright-eyed and naive.  As a businessman, Dunant was wanting. He had the ambition and even the charisma but lacked the miserly tendencies that turn daily dimes into great fortunes. In short, he was a dreamer. 

After setting out on his own and establishing a shaky enterprise in Algeria, it was not long before Dunant was in dire need of financial help and political intervention. As Algeria was then part of the French Protectorate, Dunant sought out an audience with the Emperor Napoleon III in order to get assistance in his business affairs. As it happened, Napoleon III and France were at war. Not to be deterred by that inconvenient fact, Dunant made his way to Northern Italy, where France (and Napoleon III) and Austria, and their respective allies, were readying to engage in the bloodiest European land battle in 50 years. This battle was to be called the Battle of Solferino.

Dunant, who was sheltered and Swiss, had never before seen the fallout from war.  The aftermath he witnessed of the 1859 Battle of Solferino was an earthshaking experience.  Warfare in the mid nineteenth century had reached a new level of killing potential as compared to the prior century with combatants trading in their muskets for repeating rifles and revolvers. Artillery had become more mobile and tactical, with industrialization providing greater availability and affordability. Battles in the mid 1800s had not yet taken on the trench style warfare of WWI focused on attrition: the Battle of Solferino featured lightning fast cavalry charges and troop movements designed to compress maximum damage in minimal time.

Among the horrors of war Dunant witnessed at the Battle of Solferino were miles and miles of thousands and thousands of young men, dead and dying, without any sort of organized aid response. The Battle of Solferino was also one of the last major battles to occur before the widespread use of antiseptic. As such, infection among the wounded was rampant, as was amputation.  Worse still, there were instances of enemy wounded being sought out and killed. These truly traumatic scenes change Henri Dunant, and as a result, the world. 

After bearing witness to this trauma Dunant did not fly from Solferino but rather, was compelled tostayon to help care for the wounded. He worked tirelessly as an administrator, setting up make-shift field hospitals, but also assisting in the bloody grunt work needed to physically give aid to the suffering soldiers. 

Bodies were buried. The wounded recovered or didn’t. Time marched on. Dunant tried to returnto his normal life but our dreamer found that he could not create distance from the trauma. The Battle of Solferino had produced a reflex in him, but his full reaction was not yet complete. He decided to document his experience in the form of a memoir. In his published work, A Memory of Solferino, he lays bare a full account of the Battle in all its gory detail. 

This memoir spread through Europe like wildfire. European leaders were appalled into action. This momentum turned into a movement when Dunant, along with a small group of like minds, founded the International Committee for the Red Cross.  Though this organization was founded to improve the conditions of the wounded on the field of battle, it has expanded and grown into one of the largest humanitarian organizationsin the world. Today the movement maintains volunteer societies in 190 countries and has alleviated the suffering of millions of people facing the effects of warfare, natural disaster, and epidemic. 

Beyond founding the Red Cross, Dunant ultimately helped coordinate the Geneva Convention and was awarded the first ever Nobel Peace Prize. 

I found Henri Dunant’s story fascinating enough to inspirethehistorical novel Terribilita. Based on much research into the era and Dunant, the story features a fictional Italian family swept up in the politics and violence of the 19thcentury Risorgimento movement. Dunant plays a small but critical role in the story by guiding the family to higher moral ground. 

His was one of many possible reactions to a crisis but can represent an important lesson in how even in the face of devastation, individuals like today’s health workers can be driven and inspired to work selflessly for the benefit of humanity.

 

About Ben Wyckoff Shore

Ben Wyckoff Shore is the author of Terribilita, an historical novel set in Italy at the time of the Italian unification movement (Risorgimento). An avid reader with a penchant for writing about very flawed, very human characters as well as stories about rebellion and self-sacrifice, Ben enjoys nature and loves all sorts of dogs but especially underdogs.