By NICK BUDD
The Hays Arts Center has brought in the international exhibit “In The Name of Love,” an exhibition that features pieces from four different countries. Some of the pieces have been shown all over the world.
“It’s been in Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, the National Art Gallery of Namibia, at one of the United Nations offices and major museums in Geneva, Switzerland,” said Brenda Meder, director of the Hays Arts Council. “And now it’s here in Hays, Kansas, and very proudly at the Hays Arts Center.”
The development of the project began in August 2013 when Eric Sader, former director of Jana’s Campaign, contacted Meder about the project after Victims2Survivors, an African-based advocacy group, contacted him about the project. Meder then began brainstorming — and came up with the idea of bringing the exhibition to Hays in February, a month dedicated to the idea of love.
“For how many people is this what love looks like?” said Meder. “Is this how they respond to the concept of love?”
After more discussion with Jana’s Campaign, the project was then brought to a Fort Hays State University Leadership 310 class, a course that, according to professor Christie Brungardt, teaches leadership through the practice of service learning. A group of six students in the class picked up the project and helped Meder organize the project. They admit they were a little worried after last week’s winter storm.
“We tried to keep our cool” said team member Julie Sperfslage. “We had a lot planned previously, so we just knew what was supposed to happen, so we just kept updating along the way and we got artwork from China over break and then we had some artwork from here in Hays, so it was just a matter of hoping that the stuff from Namibia made it to Hays.”
The groups were also able to bring Hem Matsi, co-founder of Victims2Survivors, to Hays from Namibia. She has a goal for people as they view the artwork.
“I just want people to start a conversation (about gender-based violence)” Matsi said. “If we can start talking about gender-based violence, if we can start feeling free to report it, if we can start being free to advise, love and support each other, that will be the start of ending gender-based violence.”
“In the Name of Love” will be at the Hays Arts Center until March 8. Admission is free.