Oscar Ritchie Hall’s new art exhibit showcases Iraq War’s lost voices

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The Uumbaji gallery is on the first floor in Oscar Ritchie Hall on Thursday, Nov. 6, 2013. Photo by Chloe Hackathorn.

Carley Hull

Oscar Ritchie Hall’s Uumbaji Gallery was filled with dirt, straw and sand sculptures Wednesday for the opening of a student’s new art exhibit influenced by his Iraq War experience.

Matthew Deibel, artist and Kent State graduate sculpture student, created “An Allegory of Life and Death” to show his experiences while serving two tours in the Iraq War as a Marine from 2005 to 2009.

“The title (of the exhibit) is the images I have presented, and they are all describing (the title), the loss of life and the impacts of the war,” Deibel said.

Three sets of sculptures made of different organic materials bring the pungent smell of earth to the room. Guests have the chance to experience direct symbolism through Arabic words, numbers and artistic composition.

The time-based piece titled “He Promised He Would Never Walk Away During a Fight” starts the gallery’s journey. Created out of four puddles of sand and etched with steel Arabic words, Deibel said the piece symbolizes the men of the war with Arabic words such as brothers, father, son and U.S. Marines.

During the exhibit’s closing reception Friday, Nov. 15, from 5 to 7 p.m., Deibel said the sand sculptures will be destroyed with sand falling overhead from contraptions in the ceiling.

“Obliterating the words is direct symbolism,” Deibel said. He said he wants to show the forgotten people of the war and then show the war and these people being buried.

With Veterans Day coming up, Moema Furtado, international partnerships coordinator for the Office of Global Education, art instructor and curating volunteer for the gallery, said the exhibit was a good fit because the artist is a veteran.

“Usually when I curate shows I choose artists (with the) kind of work related to what the department is doing and open the gallery up to students,” Furtado said.

The exhibit is free and open to everyone until the closing reception Friday, Nov. 15.

Contact Carley Hull at [email protected].