Surviving the Long Wars: Reckon and Reimagine

The second Veteran Art Triennial and Summit

March 12—July 2, 2023

Chicago Cultural Center, Exhibition Hall, 4th Floor North

Chicago Cultural Center  >  Visual Art Program  >  Exhibitions  >  Past Exhibitions  >  Surviving the Long Wars: Reckon and Reimagine


(Credit: Hanaa Malallah (b. 1958) She/He Has No Picture, 2019, Burnt canvas collage on canvas with laser cut brass plaques, Photo Credit: Roger Fawcett-Tang)

(Credit: Hanaa Malallah (b. 1958) She/He Has No Picture, 2019, Burnt canvas collage on canvas with laser cut brass plaques, Photo Credit: Roger Fawcett-Tang)

(click on image to enlarge)


Curated and organized by Aaron Hughes, Ronak K. Kapadia, Therese Quinn, Joseph Lefthand (Cheyenne-Arapaho, Taos, and Zuni tribes), Amber Zora, and Meranda Roberts with NEH Veteran Fellows Gina Herrera (Tesuque Pueblo), Monty Little (Diné), Gerald Sheffield, Anthony Torres, Eric Perez, and Natasha Erskine.

Surviving the Long Wars: Reckon and Reimagine is one of the three featured exhibitions of the second Veteran Art Triennial and Summit. From the “American Indian Wars” to the “Global War on Terror,” Surviving the Long Wars explores the multiple, overlapping histories that shape our understanding of warfare, as well as alternative visions of peace, healing, and justice generated by diverse and entangled communities impacted by war.

In March 2003, amidst historic international anti-war protests, the US led the illegal invasion of Iraq. The ensuing conflict has killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and more than 4,500 US service members, while the reverberating effects of the broader US “Global War on Terror'' continue to impact untold numbers of people around the globe. This 21st-century military conflict is deeply interlinked with the history of US counterinsurgency at home and abroad, including the legacy of frontier violence and the resulting Indigenous rebellions that marked the 18th- and 19th-century "American Indian Wars.”

Surviving the Long Wars: Reckon and Reimagine features the powerful work of Indigenous artists responding to the “American Indian Wars” alongside artists from the Greater Middle East and its diasporas reacting to the “Global War on Terror.” The exhibition explores how these works complicate and relate to the creative practices of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color veterans whose experiences profoundly challenge the dominant histories of these long wars.

Collectively, these works begin to reckon with an ongoing violent history while creating space to build solidarity across difference. Unlikely connections emerge as the artists use diverse strategies to construct meaning out of the ruins of the long wars. They critique dominant colonial conventions and propose dissident people’s archives, while reworking the complex terrain of public monuments and memorials through the perspective of diverse BIPOC communities. By reckoning with these complex legacies the featured contemporary artists transform colonial materials and technologies to reimagine histories and futures.

The Veteran Art Summit features the Surviving the Long Wars performance program and concluding discussion series of the year long NEH Dialogues on the Experience of War program. There will also be poetry readings, panels, artmaking and movement workshops, a portfolio review, exhibition tours, 15-minute Open Platform presentations, and more. Throughout the programming attention will be brought to building relationships and community care.

Featured artists at the Chicago Cultural Center exhibition include: Dorothy I. Burge, Miridith Campbell (Kiowa), Melissa Doud (Ojibwe), Ali Eyal, Tom Jones (Ho-Chunk), Chitra Ganesh, Mariam Ghani, Hock E Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Birds (Cheyenne and Arapaho Nation), Gina Herrera (Costa Rican and Tesuque Pueblo), Rajkamal Kahlon, Monty Little (Diné), Hanaa Malallah, Hector René Membreño-Canales, Chris Pappan (Kaw/Osage, Lakota), Michael Rakowitz, Gerald Sheffield, Dwayne Wilcox (Oglala Lakota), and more.

Featured performers at the Chicago Cultural Center: Lubana Al-Quntar, Andrea Assaf , Brittney Chantele, Elexa Dawson (Citizen Potawatomi Nation), Joseph Lefthand (Cheyenne-Arapaho, Taos, and Zuni tribes), James “JUST JAMEZ” Pakootas (Confederate Tribes of Colville), Joseph Running Crane (Blackfeet), Aida Shahghasemi, Zafer Tawil, Starla Thompson (Potawatomi), Ashley Wilkerson, Anu Yadav, and more.


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Open Daily, 10am–5pm
Exhibitions close 15 minutes before the building closes
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78 E. Washington St.
Chicago, IL 60602

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Index of the Disappeared Activation and Discussion

Monday, June 26, 3:30-5pm

Exhibition Hall, 4th Floor North

Join Chicago Police Torture Archive managing editor Maira Khwaja and Surviving the Long Wars co-curators Ronak Kapadia and Aaron Hughes for an activation of Mariam Ghani and Chitra Ganesh’s collaborative project the Index of the Disappeared, a physical archive of post-9/11 disappearances and a mobile platform for public dialogue.



Final “Reckon and Reimagine” exhibition tour with Aaron Hughes and special guest featured artist Ali Eyal

Thursday, June 29, 12-1pm

Exhibition Hall, 4th Floor North

Join Aaron Hughes for a guided tour of Surviving the Long Wars: Reckon and Reimagine with special guest artist Ali Eyal.


Gallery Talks

Wednesday, April 12 & May 10, 12-1pm | June 14, 5-9pm

Exhibition Hall, 4th Floor North


Triennial Exhibitions

Residues and Rebellions

Newberry Library | Exhibition: February 28-May 27, 2023 | Opening Program: Thursday, March 16


Unlikely Entanglements

Hyde Park Art Center | Exhibition: March 16-July 9, 2023 | Opening Program: Friday, March 17


Reckon and Reimagine

Chicago Cultural Center | Exhibition: March 4-June 4, 2023 | Opening Program: Saturday, March 18


Veteran Arts Summit

March 16 -19

Chicago Cultural Center, Newberry Library, and the Hyde Park Art Center Featuring four days of exciting programming that emphasizes building relationships and fostering community care. Access the programming schedule.

Saturday, March 18, 7-9:30pm: Forging Hope: Reckon and Reimagine Opening Program

Exhibition walkthrough with featured artists and music performance


Photo Gallery

(Photo credit: James Prinz Photography)