Living History: Putting a face on civil war

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While working in Guatemala in 2009 with ArtCorps, a nonprofit group operating in Central America, artist Alayna Wool came up with an idea that may help change the future of its indigenous people by finally making the past visible. Wool’s project, “Living History—A Photographic Montage,” features 2,000 rescued photographs of victims killed, tortured or “disappeared” in a bloody civil war that lasted 28 years. Its “gallery” is the 490-foot wall surrounding a cemetery in Rabinal, Guatemala; its substrate is Scotchcal™ Graphic Film for Textured Surfaces IJ8624, a product from the 3M Co, St. Paul, Minn. As she was searching for the best material for the job, Wool’s brother led her to the 3M film.

The graphic film can be applied to textured surfaces, including brick, concrete block, tile, poured concrete and industrial stucco. The gray adhesive hides any underlying wall color, provides photographic quality images and is printable on solvent inkjet printers. The 3M Commercial Graphics Division wasn’t the only Minnesota connection for Wool; she also enlisted the support of artist Nancy Coyne, inspired by her photographic installation in a Minneapolis skyway (see "Transparent skyway wrap tells a life story" from the November 2008 issue of Specialty Fabrics Review) Alayna Wool is also the daughter of Sand Sea and Air Interiors’ owner Terri Madden, who is featured on the cover of our May 2011 issue.

Wool worked with survivors and family members to unearth photos and oral and written stories, with the giant photomontage only one of the products. “Living History” will include DVDs, brochures and presentations to educate human rights groups and high school students in Guatemala about the horrors of war—while giving the victims some justice. “As they journey past the cemetery every day, the people of Rabinal are able to see the faces of their loved ones,” says Wool.

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