Melissa Green, the Corcoran’s director of community projects, speaks to Naomi Natale, founder and director of One Million Bones, a large-scale social arts practice, which uses education and hands-on art making to raise awareness of genocides and atrocities going on around the world.
Bone-making workshops will be held at the Corcoran on May 25 and June 1.
How did you get the idea for this project?
The vision for One Million Bones came out of reading Phillip Gourevitch’s book, on the Rwandan genocide, We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families. It was reading his descriptions of what happened there, all the while knowing that there was a genocide happening in Sudan and a conflict that had been going on in Congo for years, that made me want to bring the image that I had of his words to my part of the world. To make that image real for me and people living in the U.S.
How does art get people personally involved in a cause—as opposed to, say, a petition?
Through working at the intersection of art and activism, it has become very clear to me that art is an incredibly powerful tool with which to engage a community and to connect people with issues in personal and profound ways.
art is an incredibly powerful tool with which to engage a community
What made you reach out to the Corcoran for help with this project?
When we got to D.C. we were looking for organizations, particularly in the art area, to support the project and help spread the word about the installation. The Corcoran has offered a tremendous amount of support and it has been great working with them.
What else can the Corcoran community do to help realize this ambitious vision?
We are looking for volunteers. We will need 4,000 volunteers to participate in the laying of the bones on June 8. And we also need a team of core volunteers to help us leading up to the installation. Visit our website for more information.
After the culmination I hope to continue to work on projects like this that utilize art for a social cause.
What’s next for you and the One Million Bones Project?
We are hoping to find a space for the bones after the installation where they can continue to educate and raise awareness about these issues. After the culmination I hope to continue to work on projects like this that utilize art for a social cause.