The Fine Art of Artist Kathryn A. Barnes

Artwork and Design © Kathryn Barnes, Artist, all rights reserved
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Title: Make Peace Your Jihad
Artist: Kathryn Barnes
Media: Oils on Canvas

This artwork is a representation of the artist’s wish for a world at peace. Peace can only be achieved through understanding, tolerance, and compassion. The figure in this artwork holds up her hand as if saying “Please end the war.” She is speaking to all people, and a red rose is in her palm, the symbol of right to life. She stands in the vortex of swirling chaos, and behind her are the symbols of Islam, the crescent moon and star.

Muslims have said Islam is a religion of peace, not war. Jesus spoke of loving your enemies, and “blessed are the peacemakers.” The two religions should not be in conflict. Our country is founded upon religious freedom for all.

It is the artist’s personal belief that the war must end with individual commitment to making peace the goal. No one achieves heaven through violence.

With love, tolerance and respect for each other, the world can learn to live and grow through peace and understanding, not war.
Make peace your jihad.

Svetlana Mintcheva, Ph.D.
Director
Arts Program
National Coalition Against Censorship
275 7th Avenue, Fl.15
New York, NY 10001
phone 212-807-6222 ext. 23
fax 212-807-6245
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The National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC),
founded in 1974, is an alliance of 50 national
non-profit organizations, including literary,
artistic, religious, educational, professional,
labor, and civil liberties groups. United by a
conviction that freedom of thought, inquiry, and
expression must be defended, we work to educate
our own members and the public at large about the
dangers of censorship and how to oppose them.


Removing Kathryn Barnes painting from the Branch
County Courthouse because people wanted to look at it is rather paradoxical. (Anti-War Art Sparks
Controversy, July 31) Should the Courthouse remain open only for art that nobody cares to look at for more than a second? If the narrow passage where the work was hung was getting too crowded, surely there must be another, slightly more spacious
location. We should be pleased that people stop
and look at a painting, we should be delighted
when art creates dialogue ? it is nothing to be
feared. The political or social position expressed
by one of the works exhibited in a government
venue does not compromise its neutrality.
Neutrality means being open to all kinds of ideas,
it does not mean that art which takes a position
and provokes thought should be kept out.

Make Peace Your Jihad © Kathryn Barnes
The Story of the Censorship of this Artwork:

This artwork was displayed in the courthouse in Branch County for less than two hours before Courthouse officials pulled the artwork, declaring it a "security risk". The art guild that the artist belonged to displayed art for years without ever having an artwork banned. The county officials spoke of deciding whether they should allow the guild to display art at all in county buildings.
At the courthouse, when Make Peace Your Jihad was displayed people were stopping to view Ms. Barnes work and were reading the artist's statement. Although people have congregated there before, this was considered to be "stirring things up” and was called a security risk, 
It was the artist's intention for people to view her art and to make a statement against violence and for peace. The artist does not consider this artwork as being controversial or indecent and is concerned that she feels her freedom of expression was violated. 

Note: Although the artist was told the county administrator did not personally pull the art but pressured the art guild to remove the art, the artist feels censored by the county administrator.  The art guild later voted not to exhibit at the courthouse anymore.

Barnes was told “off the record" that it went beyond a security issue. Barnes was told that the community has an element of racism, and also that there are people who do not want the anti-war message expressed, but want to keep us bleeding in the war as they have invested in it and are making money from it, and that some of those people work in the courthouse.

The guild has exhibited in that space for years without incident. The guild was asked if they wanted to place another painting in the same location after Make Peace Your Jihad was pulled from exhibit.

People have in the past congregated in that location within the courthouse to either chat, wait for someone, or look at art. The display area was at the edge of the center rotunda of the courthouse.  It was within the view of the security guard, which Barnes was thankful for. During previous exhibits, some of her artwork was spit on and one painting was knifed (Ballet in Blue) when the art was in a location not in view of security.

Barnes feels any security issue could have been resolved by moving the art to another area in the courthouse for exhibit rather than the animosity the artist suffered that day in forced removal of Make Peace Your Jihad.

After the experience, the artist had an opportunity to exhibit her art across the street from the courthouse in an "art hop". Barnes displayed Make Peace Your Jihad with other of her artworks. The public met the painting with positive responses. Many voiced their concern that the painting was censored, and also their thoughts of courthouse officials they knew. Barnes was thankful for the opportunity to display the painting near the area where it was censored and to receive such an overwhelming positive response from the public on the painting and its message.

It is the belief of the artist that although some public officials may want war and may censor art and do other ignoble deeds, they do not represent the people. Artists should never stop doing the art that they believe in, no matter what the pressure and censor is.

When an artist's work is censored, it gives the feel of the beginning of fascism, and as in Nazi Germany, it makes an artist want to leave and go  where one can feel freedom in creating art, not censorship and oppression. One can not imagine the feeling it creates until one is censored. The artist continues to strive for the freedom of expression and is more committed to peace, justice, and freedom than ever.