Making bones to fight breaking bones

 By: Stefany Olivas, Staff Reporter
Creative Writing major and UNM student Travis Hanson is copresident of the UNM chapter of One Million Bones, a collaborative art project to raise awareness for genocide.

The project is part of a larger nationwide initiative to raise awareness about genocide around the world through open art studios where members of the public can make a bone for free, said Hanson. The end goal of the project is to create an art installation of one million bones at the National Mall in Washington D.C. by April of 2013.

“Number one is to get more awareness. We’re trying to get public opinion and educate people more about what’s going on,” said Hanson.

UNM was the first college to develop a chapter after artist and activist Naomi Natele founded the project and began asking for participants, said Hanson.

The campaign was inspired by an installation done in Albuquerque last year when 200 volunteers laid out 50,000 bones around the corner of Fourth Street and Central Avenue, said Hanson.

Registered student said that she began to realize the impact of genocide while attending college in Arizona. A man in her class was a refugee from the Darfur genocide in Sudan, said Skets. As she became friends with this student, she said she began to research genocide.

“It’s so sad and disturbing. We shouldn’t live in a society or world like this,” said Skets.

Skets said that because of the move to a new state, new classes and trying to find a job, she had let herself forget about genocide. It was only recently that she became involved again, when she walked past the One Million Bones office on the way to the bus, she said.

Project Manager Susan Mcallister said that a major goal of the project is to make people aware what the scope and impact of genocide really are.

“People think we are a political organization and we’re not. We don’t think that genocide is a political issue, but we know that the solutions have to come from political sources. It’s a human rights violation and we want to see solutions,” said Mcallister.

McAllister said she believes educating people can help lessen the impact of genocide. Electronics such as phones and mp3 players use what are known as “conflict minerals” – a term for resources that are scarce or difficult to mine, said Mcallister. She said she doesn’t want people to stop using these products, but to instead practice product research to find the companies that do not get materials from areas with known human rights violations.

“For example, the minerals that are used in a lot of our devices are mined in Congo. If companies that are producing these devices aren’t paying attention to where they’re getting materials from, or who they’re paying, the money is likely funding the conflict there. Women are being raped and children are being killed. It’s far away but our consumer choices here have a direct impact,” said Mcallister.

National liaison for One Million Bones, Kathleen McEuen said she manages the “Road to Washington” campaign, the goal of which is to complete a preview art installation of bones on April 28at the capitol buildings of all 50 states, including Santa Fe, said McEuen.

“Each installation will be every community representing itself on a national level, before we take all the bones to Washington DC next year to lay them out at the National Mall, right in front of the seats of power,” said McEuen.

Hanson recognizes that genocide is a huge problem to tackle and it can seem so overwhelming but the project is a unique avenue to learn, raise funds and make a change, said Hanson.

“It’s a really innovative way of tackling a huge problem. It gives people more of an opportunity to make change on an individual basis. When you get knowledge you tend to spread that knowledge around to other people,” said Hanson.

The One Million Bones studio is located at 102 Gold Avenue SW. They offer free bone making by appointment or during open studio from 4p.m. until 6p.m, Monday through Friday. Visit the facebook page or onemillionbones. org for more information.

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