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LOGAN - Michgan Hozain, a member of Afghanistan's ethnic minority tribe Hazara, has always lived with the ravages of war.
More than 25 years ago, the Soviets invaded her country to support a Marxist coup. When the USSR withdrew in 1989, a civil war began, raging off and on until the present day. When the Taliban came to power in her homeland, banning women from public life, Hozain became one of several million Afghan refugees living in U.N. camps in northern Pakistan.
These camps are known as the birthplace of Afghan war rugs, which Hozain weaves by hand to sell for a small profit and to record her vision of life in a war zone.
Hozain, who weaves on a loom in her home, is one of dozens of textile artists from around the globe whose work is included in a traveling national exhibit. Her story is told in the exhibition catalog. "Weavings of War, Fabrics of Memory" features rugs, shrouds, quilts, wall hangings and other traditional textiles made by women in developing countries.
The common thread among these women of South Africa, Vietnam, Peru and the Middle East is the influence of warfare on their communities, said Lisa Gabbert, a humanities professor at Utah State University and project director.
"This exhibit is important because it places women's voices at the forefront of a public discussion on war," Gabbert said. "Women's voices, particularly the voices of poor women from developing countries, are usually left out of such discussions."
Woven, embroidered and sewn on Turken rugs, Latin American tapestries, Vietnamese story cloths and other common household objects, the motifs depict executions, ethnic cleansings, land mines and massacres that are perpetrated with rifles, tanks, helicopters, machine guns, bombs and hand grenades.
The woven warfare genre likely evolved out of a natural inclination for women to explore the problems war creates in their countries and communities, said Scott Wakefield, executive director of the Alliance for the Varied Arts (AVA). But there is also a growing market for this kind of art.
The exhibit, brought to Logan as a collaborative effort by USU and the AVA, is an educational opportunity for visitors, Wakefield said. It offers a different view of violence around the world, as depicted by those who live with it as a way of life, he said.
"Because war is such a relevant topic, we wanted to give people in the [Cache] valley an opportunity to see a different side of it other than through the media. This is one way where we can get some personal experiences from artists around the world," Wakefield said. "It's also different for a community art organization to put together a national art exhibit. It's something we've never done before."
* "WEAVINGS OF WAR, FABRICS OF MEMORY" is a national exhibit of global textiles depicting modern warfare that hangs through Nov. 27 at the Thatcher-Young Mansion, 35 W. 100 South, Logan. The opening reception for the exhibit is Friday, 6-9 p.m., in conjunction with the Logan Downtown Gallery Walk. Refreshments will be served; both events are free and open to the public.
* OTHER PROGRAMS associated with the exhibit include a lecture series, a film screening and a panel of war refugees sharing their experiences. For a schedule, visit http://www.variedarts.org/weavings.html.