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Loewan brings peace and contemplation through new art exhibit

Amelia Feiner, Staff Writer

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“What does peace mean to you? What can you do to make this world a better place?” These questions sprawl across an empty white panel in the Fisher Gallery, now home to the Weaving Peace exhibit by Amy Loewan. Beneath, pens dangle from colorful string, and dozens of answers are scrawled across the wall: kindness, compromise, compassion….

Open from September 25 through 28, Weaving Peace is composed of Loewan’s installation in the Fisher Gallery and a Peace House in the Rotunda. Although the Peace House was based on a design by Loewan, visual arts students had the chance to participate by designing its paper walls.

Loewan was born in Hong Kong but emigrated to Canada in 1978. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in occupational therapy, and she has a Master of Fine Arts degree in painting. Now, Loewan dedicates her time to exploring powerful visual metaphors of peace and harmony. 

Along with her installation, a “Meet the Artist” was held D, E, and F periods on September 25, and workshops were led by Loewan herself on September 18, 19, and 20. By studying Loewan’s exhibitions, students learn her creative process.

The “weaving” component of the gallery’s name derives from the two tapestries hanging in individual alcoves. From far away, they look like plain lattices, but upon closer inspection, pieces of paper with words of peace on them are woven into the tapestries. Eight synonyms for peace are written over and over again in over 35 different languages, extending the metaphor of peace to an international level.

Chair of Visual Arts Department and Curator of Student Art Kim Do hopes that his students will see that they can address big challenges of humanity while also creating beauty and transcendence as Loewan did through her weavings.

“It demonstrates collaborative vision but with a strong core of the artist holding it all together, in a unified vision of wholeness and healing,” he said.

Matthew Wein (10), a Drawing & Painting I student, attended one of Loewan’s workshops in class. In the workshop, he used tape and different colored markers to visualize his idea of peace: he constructed the Hebrew word for kindness as well as a scuba diving flag because he believes scuba diving is a very peaceful activity, he said.

Pierson Cohen (10), another student who contributed to the gallery, enjoys the installation.“It has a special significance for the school,” he said. “I took away from this that each person has their own definition of peace.”

The process of installing the gallery was complex, as Loewan’s original design had to be modified to fit in the Rotunda. Loewan took every intricate detail into account during the construction. Specificities down to how the light would hit the gallery at different times of day were taken into account to ensure that the pieces were both backlit and front lit.

Furthermore, the construction was rushed because it had to be ready by the beginning of the school year, a hectic time.

The fabrication of the gallery was completed by Do and the Visual Arts Department’s new associate, Nakai Kulik. Kulik also aided Loewan in the project installation.

“After [the] exoskeleton was put up, we had each art class in the Upper and Middle Division put up a panel on each side to have different aspects of peace and serenity,” Kulik said. “For example, photography would have polaroids while the drawing class would cut out tons of peace signs for triangular panels.”

The complexity involved in the installation is not evident in the gallery, which serves as a quiet place to think and reflect. A small bench in the middle of the room provides the viewer a vantage point to sit and process each wall in the gallery, which features different pieces of Loewan’s project.

On one wall, doves fly across a mural, pasted upon a painted white brick wall. Upon closer inspection, small strips of writing are pasted throughout the piece. Each strip bears the word “peace” in different languages.

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Loewan brings peace and contemplation through new art exhibit