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Artist exposes human rights violations through art

Jennifer Larue

Through September there will be an art show at Second Space Gallery, 610 W. Second Ave., unique to our area. Commodity is at the bottom of the list of reasons for the event.

“Creating art as a commodity is not my primary goal as an artist. Making art that doesn’t need to complement a living room gives me so many more possibilities of objects and images that I can use,” said artist Dani Pavlic. “I create art that has a clean, shiny aesthetic to draw in the viewer. The concept of art is the focus of the work.”

The concept of this particular show, called “Zero Sum,” is “La Violencia,” a reference to the violence and civil war that only recently became a part of Guatemalan history. To sum up the show, terms and phrases like REMHI (Recovery of Historical Memory) Project, “Scorch the Earth,” and genocide are referred to with images to educate the viewers. The show will include video, interactive games, and a piece made of bullet casings affixed with liquid nails, tar, and silicone to an 18-by-36-inch wood panel. From the piece, an image of the Mayan god of death Ah Puch emerges.

Her work is curious and visually stunning, not “in-your-face” political. “My art is not propaganda telling you what to think but rather telling you facts and letting you form your own opinions.”

Pavlic, 25, was born in Guatemala during the genocide of the Mayan people. She was taken from her birth parents by the government, and adopted by Americans.

“From a young age my family and I traveled the world,” she said. “When I was 7, I went to Auschwitz and Dachau, Nazi concentration camps. In college when I began to research the atrocities in Guatemala, I was devastated to know the extent of the horror that occurred only decades ago in my own country.

“Having seen firsthand the remnants of the concentration camps and knowing that similar torture and killing had recently occurred in Guatemala, I knew that I must do something to prevent the killing and human rights violations in other countries. I feel a strong obligation to work with human rights in prevention of genocide. As an artist I have the skills to reach many people through gallery art and public art.”

James Hill, owner of Second Space Gallery, believes that this show is important. “When Dani told me of the concept, it was like a shock to my conscience. As Americans, there’s so much we don’t know, things that we, as a country, had a hand in,” he said, “I don’t know that anyone’s seen anything like this.”

Pavlic received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Eastern Washington University in 2007 and has since researched human rights violations in order to be able to discuss and visually explain the issues on a professional level. In October, she plans to travel to Guatemala to learn the language fluently while volunteering at a school and working in human rights.

The Verve is a weekly feature celebrating the arts. If you know an artist, dancer, actor, musician, photographer, band or singer, contact correspondent Jennifer LaRue by e-mail
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