Now, nearly a generation later, artists Trast Howard and Keiko Yanagida are bringing them back. Howard, former director of the Contemporary Art Institute in Sapporo, Japan, says: “Some art is of its time and some art is ahead of its time. When Keiko and I first saw the Anti-Nuclear War Head we knew immediately that it had a lot more good to do in this world.”
The Anti-Nuclear War Head was sculpted by “Jimpi” Piercey in 1979 and was developed into an international symbol of peace by Harvey Hoffman in 1981. Hoffman and Piercey first exhibited the sculptures on the Great Lawn of Central Park during the historic 1982 rally to an enthusiastic reception, peaking interest and catching the eyes of all. “It was like a peace offering in a field,” says Howard.
Because the Anti-Nuclear War Head is both art object and protest piece, its exhibition history in the 1980s was incredibly diverse and included galleries, peace conferences, citizens’ groups, and demonstrations. It was present at Galleria Estampa, Madrid, The Nuclear Weapons Freeze Conference in St. Louis, (Soviet) Women Concerned About Nuclear War, and the simulated “Underground Test” outside the gate of the Nevada Test Site in support of Utahns United to End the Arms Race and Downwinders.
Among the individuals who had Anti-Nuclear War Heads during this time were Cesar Chavez (after speaking at a Nuclear Freeze Conference), Carl Sagan, and Don Priester (Participant in the Great Peace March, 1986). Willem J. Kolff M.D., the co-creator of the first Artificial Heart, had several and presented them as gifts when traveling.
Howard and Yanagida were introduced to the Anti-Nuclear War Head in 2009 through curator Indi McCarthy, an acquaintance of Piercey. “When we first saw the Heads, the communicative power of the small piece was felt right away. We just knew we couldn’t leave it for the dustbin of history,” says Howard.
“I think any curator might have been inspired to do the same, but for Keiko and me, given how we bridged Japanese and American cultures in our own lives, and how our two countries are forever intertwined by the tragedy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we were drawn to it. As timeless guardians of peace, Anti-Nuclear War Heads represent a commitment to a world free from nuclear threats.”
You can help PSR-LA re-launch this compelling yet elegant symbol of the anti-nuclear movement by purchasing an Anti-Nuclear War Head – a portion of the proceeds from every sculpture sold will benefit PSR-LA. Each sculpture includes a provocative photo essay, which encourages its owner to display the Anti-Nuclear War Head as a reminder of the threat that nuclear weapons pose to our lives and our desire for a safer, more peaceful world. A little beauty doesn’t hurt either. Please visit www.antinuclearwarheads.net.