Chaos in war-torn countries depicted in Houghton University art exhibit

Houghton Artist Joel Mulindwa stands beside the first work he completed as a result of attending, when he was 15 years of age, the funeral of a child who had died of tetanus. It is one of several works of art, entitled Chaos, which is on display at Houghton University.

Attending the funeral of a child who had died of tetanus began a journey for Houghton artist Joel Mulindwa which has translated into an exhibit of Chaos in the world of war-torn countries.

Mulwindwa, who currently works at Houghton University after graduating from the institution with a major in business administration and minors in political science and art, said he remembers being “incredibly scared” about the 15 years of age funeral experience.

Born in 1996 in the City of Nyakunde in the Democratic Republic of Congo, he didn’t stay long in his country due to a civil war breaking out, resulting to his displacement to Uganda.

He migrated to the United States as a teenager and enrolled at Houghton.

The artist says he “didn’t necessarily” enjoy creating the many pieces of art developed in 2019 and 2020 and currently on display at the University “but gravitated toward it” as he documented the realities that war brings.

The collection was developed from stories shared by family members and through readings about victims and perpetrators of war, he relates, often analyzing the truths and the lies told by both parties.

For example, he asks about children who are recruited to join armies and forced to become violent as wars rage.

“Are they saints?” for fighting for some cause, “or are they sinners?” he asks, answering that “they are victims” in his mind.

The exhibit is a component of the Kindschi Faith and Justice Symposium, an annual event sponsored by the University’s Center for Faith, Justice, and Global Engagement which seeks to educate students and the community about important issues connecting one’s faith to “critical topics of global justice.”

This year’s theme for presentations and discussions last week was War and Conflict: Creating Sanctuaries in Times of Violence.

The Chaos exhibit is available for viewing from 9AM to 6PM Mondays through Saturdays, through February 25, in the basement gallery of the Wesley Chapel at 1 Willard Avenue.