Art Not Hate:
Creative Responses to Conflict

A Print Series by Bob Barancik

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“A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.” – Maya Angelou 

Like 74 million other baby boomers, my life has been defined and changed by conflict. We are the Post-World War II generation.

We have lived through the duck-and-cover drills of the Cold War with Russia, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Cuban missile crisis (that almost triggered WWIII), the first Gulf War, Bosnia, Somalia, saber rattling with Iran, Afghanistan, worldwide War on Terror with Al Quada, and the Wars in Iraq…

We also created and lived through the 1960s’ “Culture Wars” in America. This often included heated conflict with our parents and government institutions over civil rights, the environment, feminism and women’s issues, and, of course, sex, drugs, and rock ’n roll.

Perhaps of greatest significance, baby boomers were the first generation of Americans to fully grasp the historical magnitude of the Holocaust and the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. These events challenged our notions of progress and the innate goodness of human beings.

As a boy growing up in a middle class subdivision outside of Chicago in the 1950s, my life both mirrored and amplified the spirit of the times. There were Jewish people who tried to hide the tattooed numbers on their forearms; they somehow survived the Nazi death camps and became my reticent neighbors.

I lived just outside of the gates of Fort Sheridan. Many of my close friends were army brats. Their fathers had fought in WWII and Korea, and their dads were the officers who managed the military build-up for the Vietnam War. Conflict was a given part of life.

Conflict lived at home, too where I witnessed the breakup of my parent’s marriage. Being “the boy from the divorced family” was atypical. Couples were expected to stay together, and the vast majority did. Today, it is unusual for an American child to be living with both of his or her biological parents.

As an elementary school student I was often mercilessly bullied for being Jewish. Ironically, I was from a thoroughly secular family. When my dad asked where all the bruises and bloody noses came from, I would always answer that it was from touch football or just fooling around. He suspected what was actually happening. But in those days, males of any age were expected to just silently suck it up. Perhaps this is where my feeling for the underdog developed.

The good news is that Christians of all denominations have enthusiastically helped me create and disseminate my award-winning “Art Not Hate” videos and prints to the world. Now they are helping me to design and implement the CreativeLedge Art Not Hate Traveling Exhibition and Workshop program.

My natural creative response to conflict is to draw and write. It has allowed me, from a young age, to express and order these dangerous feelings and images into meaningful patterns. Pictures and words give purpose to apparently meaningless and hurtful discord.

Not surprisingly, this lead to my career as a painter, printmaker, and video producer. The thread that runs through much of my artwork is the attempt to transform an ugly experience into something beautiful; although it can be a harsh and painful beauty.

As a man who can clearly see his 60th birthday looming on the horizon, I look at the world with a profound sense of horror and hope. None of us (not even President Obama) has enough information and insight into the future to know whether the human prospect has a brilliant and peaceful future –– or any future at all…

This bound folio of my artwork is for those who want to seriously consider conflict in our world, local communities, and in themselves. I hope the images will inspire you to write, paint, act, sing, dance, and most of all, to respond creatively and humanely to these turbulent and uncertain times.

As ever,

Bob Barancik
St. Petersburg, Florida
February 12, 2009