Area middle and high school students create life-size human forms in response to the tragedy

Lincroft, NJ — A collaborative art installation consisting of more than 160 life-sized human forms will be on display April 6 through July 14 at the Center for Holocaust, Human Rights and Genocide  Education at Brookdale Community College (chhange) to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the Rwanda Genocide.

The exhibit, entitled “100 Days of Silence,” corresponds with the 100 days in 1994 when some 800,000 Rwandan men, women and children were killed by Hutu extremists.  The title is a reference to the failure of the global community to intervene.

The forms, made of foam and designed by area middle and high school students, are part of a collaborative effort to learn about and respond creatively to the tragedy.

“The exhibit is a chance for students, educators and community members to reflect upon the human experience of the Rwandan people and the silence of the world,” according to Dale Daniels, executive director of chhange. “It is a powerful statement from our children and our community about genocide and humanity.”

The exhibit is open to individuals from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday.  Groups, as well as those wishing to view the exhibit at additional times, are asked to call 224-1889 to make arrangements.

Daniels credits retired art educator Arlene Smelson for making it possible to tell the Rwandan story in such a unique way.

Earlier in the year, art educators were invited to a workshop at the college where they received a comprehensive lesson plan on the genocide and the foam forms their classes would use to interpret it. During the workshop, they heard from Rwandan survivor Jacqueline Murekatete, who shared her eyewitness testimony. The students were able to hear her testimony through video that the art educators brought back to the classroom.

“It’s a very powerful statement. The kids really got it,” Daniels said.