Larry and Debby Kline artists and provocateurs – installation, performances, and other works

Searching for Peace at COVA GALLERY AT ACI and Southwestern College, curated by Debby and Larry Kline, Feb. 2004

Searching for Peace exhibition



The photographs in this exhibition were taken in Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and Mozambique by Thomas Antel and Bobby Neel Adams, long-time friends whose travels have produced compelling photographs of individuals affected by the physical and economic devastation of war.  Humanity’s capacity for violence is evidenced through these thoughtful and dignified photographs.  In addition to bearing witness to these horrifying conditions, the artists have sought images of peaceful reflection and a portion of the exhibition is dedicated to the work of monks engaged in the creation of Buddhas and shrines.  Their endeavors illustrate our potential to achieve a level of spirituality that can allow us to reject the pettiness, greed and xenophobia that threatens to destroy the fabric of society.


While many of these images are difficult to view, it is important to etch them into our collective consciousness.  In many parts of the world, acts of aggression have become part of a daily ritual.  Innocent nationals, including children, continue to be targeted by governments tenuously clinging to power and counter-government militias spreading fear through the general population.  As Americans, our gaze tends to shift away from areas in which we are not overtly engaged, however it is important to note that these images are contemporary and were taken in the mid to late 1990’s.  In Cambodia alone, the proliferation of landmines over the past 30 years has spoiled once fertile land and created populations in which nearly one in 200 people have been maimed.  This staggering figure is increasing as an estimated 6000 join the ranks of amputees each year.


Each image in this show is a portrait of an individual, each with a personal history and life story attached.  The artists have captured these scenes with honesty and dignity.  It is to their credit that this sensitive work transcends the bounds of documentation to become art.  This exhibition cannot propose to solve the complex political situations that have created these environments.  These photos do, however, have the power to inform and move us and ultimately make us more empathetic and humane.


The last section of the exhibition contains images of Buddhas and monks engaged in the process of creating Buddhas and shrines.  At first glance, there seems something incongruous about the allocation of resources used to build these ambitious Wats (Buddhist temples) amidst such poverty and destruction.  If, however, each action truly results in an equal and opposite reaction, then the gargantuan task of construction at Wat Thamkrabok seems a perfectly appropriate response.  Wat Thamkrabok also serves as a rehabilitation center for the alcoholism, drug abuse and helplessness left in the wake of sustained physical and economic violence.  Life at the Wat is not an easy task, but the act of rebuilding the spirit while building Buddhas with molten steel, rock and sinew offers a glimmer of hope to those who are searching.


-Debby and Larry Kline






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