“Mom, I don’t want war”: war photographs, children’s works exhibited at Northeastern Illinois University

CHICAGO (WLS) — A powerful Chicago art exhibit shows the people’s war through the eyes of children.

What is so striking about the images of children from WWII Poland during German occupation to Ukraine under Russian assault in 2022 is their similarity.

“It’s a much more universal language, so they can communicate and feel like somebody could hear, somebody could listen,” said Saba Ayman Nolley, professor emeritus of psychology at Northeastern Illinois University. “But they also talk to each other in a certain way and process what they’re going through.”

The exhibit, “Mom, I Don’t Want War,” evokes the horror of armed conflict, which top diplomatic officials from Ukraine and Poland in Chicago spoke to Northeastern Illinois University on Wednesday.

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But before the roundtable, these representatives stressed the unpredictability of the war – including what to think of Tuesday’s missile bombing in Poland that killed two people.

“Our services are on the spot,” said Polish Consul General Pawel Zyzak. “They are analyzing what happened.”

The NATO Secretary General said that a A Ukrainian air defense missile most likely caused the explosion on Tuesday. It’s a situation that, if mishandled, could have expanded this conflict into an all-out Russia-NATO brawl.

“We have to see the results of this international commission studying this case for us,” said Consul General of Ukraine Koledov Serhiy. “It is very important because our Western partners, we are caught up in this event and we are awaiting the outcome of the investigation.”

Joined by the Consul General of the Czech Republic, the diplomats hailed solidarity in the fight against aggression and reflected on a timeless story illustrated by children of the last century.

The images have been preserved in the Polish archives until the present day, where children can post their art on the Portal “Mom I see the war” online.

“The more they do this, the clearer they get and the more they feel like someone is going to hear them,” Ayman Nolley said. “And also not keeping it inside themselves, it’s kind of a ripple effect.”

The Website “Mom I see the war” has received over 13,500 images to date.

NEIU will host “Mom, I Don’t Want War” in the student union at the main campus in North Park until Friday. It is a public university and anyone can access it for free.

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Tracey L. Sweeney