'Mom, I Don't Want War': Art exhibit shows war through eyes of children at NEIU

Ravi Baichwal Image
Wednesday, November 16, 2022
Powerful art exhibit shows war through eyes of children
'Mom, I don't want war" is a powerful art exhibit on display at Northeastern Illinois University that shows people war through the eyes of children.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A powerful Chicago art exhibit is showing people war through the eyes of children.

What's so striking about the images by children from World War II in Poland during the German occupation to Ukraine under Russian assault in 2022 is their similarity.

"This is a much more universal language, so they can communicate and feel that somebody might hear, somebody might listen," said Saba Ayman Nolley, Professor Emerita of Psychology at Northeastern Illinois University. "But they are also talking to themselves in a way and processing what they are experiencing."

The exhibit, "Mom I Don't Want War" conveys the horror of armed conflict, something the top diplomatic representatives of Ukraine and Poland in Chicago connected on Wednesday at Northeastern Illinois University.

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But before the panel discussion, those representatives underlined war's unpredictability - including what to make of Tuesday's missile bombing in Poland that killed two people.

"Our services are on the spot," Consul General of Poland Pawel Zyzak said. "They are analyzing what happened."

The secretary general of NATO said that a Ukrainian air defense missile most likely caused the explosion Tuesday. It's a situation that if improperly handled could have widened this conflict to an all-out Russia-NATO brawl.

"We need to see the results of that international commission who are researching this case for us," said Consul General of Ukraine Koledov Serhiy. "This is very important because our western partners, we're caught in this event and we are waiting for result of investigation."

Joined by the consul general for the Czech Republic, the diplomats praised solidarity in the fight against aggression and reflected on a timeless story as illustrated by children from the last century.

The images were preserved in Polish archives to the present day, where kids can post their art to the "Mom I See War" portal online.

"The more they do that, the more they are lightening up and the sense that somebody will hear them," Ayman Nolley said. "And also to not hold it inside of themselves, it's kind of a rippling effect."

The "Mom I See War" website has received over 13,500 images so far.

NEIU will host "Mom, I Don't Want War" in the student union on the main campus in North Park through Friday. It is a public university and anybody can come in and check it out for free.