Austin participates in “One Million Bones” to raise genocide awareness

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Art education graduate student Celina Esekawu places a plaster bone into the One Million Bones art installation in front of the Capitol Saturday afternoon. The goal of the art piece is to raise genocide and human rights awareness.

Photo Credit: Marisa Vasquez | Daily Texan Staff

While events such as the Holocaust are well-known, an artist has created a new and varied approach to raising awareness of the lasting effects of crimes in history.

To mark the end of Genocide Awareness Month, citizens of Austin participated in an art installation outside the Capitol Saturday to show these effects. One Million Bones was started by Naomi Natale, an artist from Albuquerque dedicated to using art to bring awareness to human rights issues. The main goal of the project is to gather one million bones for an art installation on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., according to the website.

“I want people to realize that another huge problem is the repercussions people face in their lives after genocide,” said Matthew Remington, project coordinator and art education graduate student.

The installation in Austin had approximately 2,200 ceramic bones, which were donated by Armadillo Clay and Supplies. After donating $5 to place a bone, people were allowed to place them anywhere inside the installation to create a long rectangle of bones in front of the Capitol.

“Bones link us all together as humans,” Remington said. “Regardless of our race, gender or faith, our bones all look the same and are built with the same function.”

Preceding the main event, many smaller installations have taken place around the country.

“Students learn about history and current events in class with textbooks, but visual representations can completely change people’s perspectives,” said Christina Bain, associate professor in art education. “It’s more powerful than words because it reaches people in a completely different way.”

Ibrahim Aminou, a musician in the group Zoumountchi, played traditional African music during the event and various speakers spoke about genocides currently taking place and the effects these conflicts have on the lives of those involved.

“America is privileged and we don’t realize or appreciate it enough,” said Ellen Simmons, visual art studies junior. “We need shock factors like this to educate people on the events occurring around the world.” 

Printed on Monday, April 30, 2012 as: Art project raises genocide awareness