Watertown, MA Art Event and Film Screening to Connect the Public in a Timely Dialog for Peace

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The Zeitgeist Gallery Artist, Youxin Yang's socially engaged art and film to show during the month of October at the Watertown Library. Gallery reception October 26, 2014 at 2-4 PM.

Nichola Hays, Youxin Yang, and Sandra Gobar at the Arts Club of Washington DC, Sept 5th, 2014. Photo by Walter Munoz.

During the entire month of October, the Watertown Free Public Library will display a Peace series of artwork in its gallery space that is striking a pertinent and necessary dialog in these times of social unrest. The loss of innocent lives is a tragedy always, and it affects humanity locally, as well as in a wide circle that ripples outward to encompass the whole world. The artist responsible for the Peace series of art, Youxin Yang, is a Cambridge, Massachusetts based painter and filmmaker who expresses herself across a broad range of mediums, but always with the concept of promoting peace at its center. The work that will hang in Watertown is currently on display for the month of September at the Arts Club of Washington DC. The paintings will be accompanied by a musical video film, which will screen at the exhibition reception.

When terrorism hit close to home during the April 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, Ms. Yang grieved the loss of innocent lives by painting a large and looming painting titled ‘Peace- VI Boston Marathon 2013’. By displaying this painting in Watertown, with its direct connection to the terrorist suspects’ chase, which took place April 19th of last year, Ms. Yang hopes to bring the event full circle—a place of closure, where people will begin to heal and understand. The understanding is key. Peace is not any sort of given condition of the world; it is something we work towards earning. It is what’s on the other side of global mutual respect; a place that, as a species, we have yet to attain collectively. It’s difficult to remember the fear and the tumult, but unless we take time to remember, we will forget, and if we allow ourselves to forget, we will never reach understanding.

Watertown is the place where Dzohkhar Tsarnaev, in his desperate attempts to escape police custody, ran over the body of his seriously wounded brother, Tamerlan. Watertown is also where Dzohkhar was finally apprehended, hiding out in a boat parked in a backyard like hundreds of others just like it. It’s heartbreaking to remember the details, it has been a year and a half and we have moved on, but there it is, vivid and visceral, every time terrorism rears up on the news. Innocent journalists are being beheaded and the recorded footage is being sent into the ether to further propagate terror by ISIS.

Now especially it is important for us to understand and make peace with that which frightens us, as Youxin Yang does through her art. The short, musical film that will be screened during the Watertown Free Public Library’s reception event is of special note here. The piece is titled ‘Peace - Melody Under Brushes, Part 1: Baby get rid of that dark obsession please!’. It bears pointing out that in this song addresses the terrorists directly, and it addresses them as “baby”; because all people, whether wrong or right, were once someone’s little darling, were once innocent and wide-eyed, filled with wonder at the world around them. This is when the intervention needs to begin, suggests Ms. Yang’s song. The performers for this project were: Berklee College of Music Associate Professor, Didi Stewart, in the role of the friend. The mother’s vocals are provided by Berklee Associate Professor, Jeannie Gagné and the voice of the father belongs to Berklee Professor, Armsted Christian. Cellist, Sam Ou, is a Faculty Member and Assistant String Chairperson at New England Conservatory. Percussion was provided by E.C. The traditional Chinese instruments were performed by Erhuist, Hongwei Gao, Pipaist, Yanrong Lu, and Dizi player, Jianhua Duan. ‘Peace - Melody Under Brushes, Part 1’ is a powerful and emotional film that needs to be experienced first hand.

In fact, the musical film has just won a prestigious Award of Merit in three categories from The Accolade Global Film Competition. The Accolade recognizes film, television, videography and new media professionals who demonstrate exceptional achievement in craft and creativity, and those who produce standout entertainment or contribute to profound social change. Entries are judged by highly qualified professionals in the film and television industry.

In winning an Accolade, Youxin Yang joins the ranks of other high-profile winners of this internationally respected award. Rick Prickett, who chairs The Accolade Global Film Competition, had this to say about the latest winners, “The Accolade is not an easy award to win. Entries are received from around the world from powerhouse companies to remarkable new talent. The Accolade helps set the standard for craft and creativity. The judges were pleased with the exceptional high quality of entries. The goal of The Accolade is to help winners achieve the recognition they deserve.”

Sandra Gobar, the Curator for the Arts Club of Washington exhibition, shared some insights into the value of Ms. Yang’s work, she says, “ I was instantly whisked away and connected to my favorite work of art of hers, titled Peace- V, here in the gallery. The manner in which Ms. Yang dealt with spacial configuration in her relationship to color, how she arranged a color-spacial transformative language, made me think of the time when I lived in Korea ... Her palette, once on the canvas, is reminiscent of more than a zen-like experience. She beautifully mesmerizes you with her painfully poetic conversation she engages you in, and invites you into the conversation as well when you look at her work.”

As her current exhibition closes at the Arts Club of Washington DC, Youxin Yang expresses her thanks: “I would like to thank Nicola Hays, for her tireless work in supporting artists. I appreciate the art juror, Sandra Gobar, for her recognition of 'Peace V', which has not won any awards, there are no historical figures in it, but an ordinary human and animal. The juxtaposed pairs, when confronting each other, are smiling is instead of fighting. An adult is carrying a baby on each side, indicating that, as bio-beings, we share the same nature: to live a life and take responsibility. And I’m grateful that the Arts Club of Washington, who nicely displayed 'Peace VI-Boston Marathon 2013', since this piece, which was painted in remembrance of our Bostonian victims, is large (68”x78”) and not for sale; this painting has been rejected by several commercial venues in the past.”

The art reception will be held on Sunday, October 26, 2014 from 2 - 4 PM. The film screening will be held at 3 o’clock in the Raya Stern Trustees room at the Watertown Free Public Library.

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Zhana Levitsky
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