There are certain things that kids are always able to understand better than adults: fairy tales, the correct way to jump in puddle, and blind faith, to name a few. In “Speak Peace,” an exhibit at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, it’s kids voices that offer perspective and enlightenment to one of recent history’s most devastating conflicts: the Vietnam War.
Ten years ago, the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Min City, Vietnam, began collecting paintings about war (and peace) from Vietnamese children. Then, American children were asked to respond to the paintings with poetry. Now, those works and their poetic responses – including those of many students from the Phoenix Union High School District – are on display in SMoCA’s young@art gallery.
“It’s not their war,” says Sean Nevin, Director of ASU’s Young Writer’s Program, who created a curriculum to guide Phoenix students in the project. But their explanations of it, he says, offered one thing that children can always be counted on to provide. “They don’t have answers, but they all have hope.”