Deepu George said he didn't have Virginia Tech's April 16 Day of Remembrance in mind when he started organizing a community arts project that will be one of that day's featured events on campus.

But the project’s message – a call to viewers to reassess their interactions with others – is an appropriate one to share on the 16th, said the third-year Ph.D. student from Kerala, India.

“I think art is a safe medium where people can begin to address difficult topics,” said George, who is working toward a doctorate in family therapy.

Led by George, more than 30 volunteers, including students, faculty members, and local artists worked together to create “Connections: A Community Arts Project.” Their exhibit opened April 13 in the Graduate Life Center’s multipurpose room, where it will be displayed through the 16th before moving to Theatre 101 on April 24 and 25. The exhibit will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the 16th.

The exhibit is one of several university events planned for the 16th – a day on which the university opens two hours later than usual and holds no classes.

Members of the steering committee for this year’s Day of Remembrance said they wanted to honor the spirit of scholarship and inquiry displayed by the students and faculty who died three years ago Friday. As a result, many of the day’s events have an academic tone and highlight work by students or faculty members.

George’s exhibit is based on an Indian fable from the 3rd Century B.C. about a two-headed bird that died because one head got mad and ate poison after the other refused to share an exotic potion. Using a variety of media, 12 artists illustrated the story on a series of two-by-three-foot panels.

“Within the art space there is also a reaction area that invites people to express themselves though art work, blogging, or storytelling circles,” George said. “The real idea is to help people think broadly about how we connect with each other and maintain that connection through tough times.”

John Kayrouz is a junior from Salem double majoring in theater and communications who also helped organize the exhibit. He agreed with George that it’s appropriate to share their work on the Day of Remembrance.

“One of the big things I understand happened after April 16 [2007] was that the community came together – the university, the students, the local community – and this project is meant to do that too. It’s called ‘Connections’ for a reason.”

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