APG News

Mary Kavanagh: Trinity 3


Trinity 3Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery
February 13, 2020 – May 10, 2020

Curated by Crystal Mowry

Trinity Site, New Mexico, marks the historically significant testing of the world’s first atomic bomb on 16 July 1945, three weeks prior to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. Under the auspices of the Manhattan Project, the development and use of atomic weapons presented new orders of destructive capability. Today the area surrounding the original test site is named the White Sands Missile Range and remains active in the steady advancement of increasingly sophisticated military technologies. Two days each year, the WSMR Public Affairs Office hosts an Open House, during which thousands of visitors come to experience the place where the atomic age began.

Since her first visit in 2012, Mary Kavanagh has developed a forensic eye for the individual and collective histories shaped by the events associated with the test site. In the making of Trinity 3, Kavanagh conducted hundreds of on-site interviews with visitors making the pilgrimage, often for complex reasons. For some of her subjects, the site is consecrated. For others, it awakens anxiety about the militarization of science and fears that nuclear technologies may be exploited by reckless leaders. By interspersing archival footage with narratives of impact, Kavanagh creates a filmic montage that is in turn jarring, poetic and inscrutable.

A forthcoming catalogue with essays by Peter C. van Wyck and Jayne Wilkinson will be produced in partnership with the Southern Alberta Art Gallery and the Founders’ Gallery at the University of Calgary.

KWAG Mary Kavanagh Artist’s Talk
KWAG Mary Kavanagh Exhibition
Canadian Art | Trinity 3

Daughters of Uranium, an exhibition by Mary Kavanagh


The Founders’ Gallery
The Military Museums, University of Calgary

September 27, 2019 – January 26, 2020

Daughters of Uranium, an exhibition by Mary Kavanagh

On July 16, 1945, when the United States detonated the world’s first atomic bomb, the atmospheric radiation released by this event marked the beginning of the what is now called the Nuclear Anthropocene.

In this exhibition, Mary Kavanagh engages different modes of representation, structuring the Nuclear as a totalizing concept rather than as a singular event or period. She weaves a complex narrative that, as Jayne Wilkinson writes, “encompasses not only the desert site of the first atomic explosion but the post-war suburbs that expanded rapidly in its shadows; not only the laboratories that buzzed with thrilling scientific discovery, but the homes where the cost of war was actualized in the slow decay of uranium isotopes moving through newly cancerous bodies.”

Kavanagh offers the viewer an immersive experience with artworks that have coalesced after more than a decade of research. She repositions archival material, letters, photographs, artefacts and interviews. Personal responses find form in drawings, watercolours, sculpture, video, and collections.

Mary Kavanagh brings into view current conditions of invisibility, exposing us to the present and to the presence of the Nuclear. Derived from the chemical sciences, the term “daughters of uranium” describes the radioactive decay chain of naturally occurring uranium, (U-235 being the crucial element for sustaining a nuclear chain reaction) while evoking generations born into an uncertain future.

Mary Kavanagh is a Professor in the Department of Art, University of Lethbridge, where she teaches drawing and interdisciplinary studio. Her research interests include post-atomic studies; feminist political ecology; technologies of war; and histories of science. For the past decade, Kavanagh has documented military and nuclear sites in Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, Alaska, Japan and Canada. She is an advisory member of the Atomic Photographers Guild, and an Associate Member of the Documentary Media Research Centre, Ryerson University. In 2017 she received a SSHRC Insight Grant for her project, Atomic Tourist: Trinity. She was recently awarded a Tier I Board of Governors Research Chair from the University of Lethbridge and will begin her five-year appointment in 2020.

Co-curated by Christina Cuthbertson and Lindsey Sharman. Co-organized by the Southern Alberta Art Gallery and the Founders’ Gallery. An exhibition catalogue with essays by Peter C. van Wyck and Jayne Wilkinson is scheduled for publication in 2020.




Exhibition: Nuclear Visions – The Atomic Photographers Guild


The John and June Allcott Gallery in Chapel Hill, UNC will be exhibiting APG members work in the exhibition Nuclear Visions: The Atomic Photographers Guild.Berlyn Brixner, Trinity, 1945The Atomic Photographers Guild (APG) is an international collective of artists dedicated to making visible all facets of the nuclear age. APG was created in 1987 by Robert Del Tredici, with founding members Carole Gallagher, Kenji Higuchi, and Harris Fogel. APG documents the history, impact and ongoing legacy of the atomic age – emphasizing nuclear weapons mass-production, atomic testing and proliferation, nuclear power, reactor accidents, attempts at radioactive waste-management, irradiated landscapes, radiation-affected populations, and making the invisible (radiation, loss, death, contamination, exposure) visible.

The APG has an archive of images from 1945 to the present. Prominent works include prints by the first two atomic photographers: Berlyn Brixner of Los Alamos and Yoshito Matsushige of Hiroshima, both included in this exhibition. Brixner was the official photographer of the first nuclear bomb test, Trinity, in the Alamogordo desert, New Mexico, on July 16, 1945; Matsushige was the only photographer to document the atomic bombing of Hiroshima from within the city on August 6, 1945. Carole Gallagher’s work, also included in the show, documents the damage done to down-winders in southern Utah living under clouds of atomic fallout from the Nevada Test Site in the 1950s and early 60s. Robert Del Tredici has photographed the U.S. H-bomb factory complex, uranium mining in the US and Canada, nuclear waste sites, A-Bomb survivors in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and atomic survivors in the U.S. and former USSR. APG members engage the socio-political, discursive, ethical and ecological dimensions of the nuclear era. Through exhibitions, screenings, publications and lectures, members of the APG actively disseminate their work, piecing together the fragments of what could be our darkest, most enduring legacy.

Nuclear Visions was co-curated by APG members elin o’Hara slavick and Robert Del Tredici. Not all APG photographers are included in this exhibition. There will be a table of nuclear related books, some by APG photographers, included in the show.

Photographers included in Nuclear Visions:
Takashi Arai / Japan, Gordon Belray / Canada, Jessie Boylan / Australia, Berlyn Brixner / USA, Dan Budnik / USA, James Crnkovich / USA, Bob Del Tredici / Canada, Harris Fogel / USA, Carole Gallagher / USA, Peter Goin / USA, Grace Halden / UK, Kenji Higuchi / Japan, Mary Kavanagh / Canada, James Lerager / USA, Igor Kostin / Russia, Juri Kuidin / Russia, Yoshito Matsushige / Japan, Takashi Morizumi / Japan, Terry Ownby / USA, Mark Ruwedel / USA, Paul Shambroom / USA, Ursula Shulz-Dornburg / Germany, elin o’Hara slavick / USA, Amirtharaj Stephen / India, Hiromi Toyosaki / Japan, David Wargowski / USA, Vaclav Vascu / Czech Republic, Gunter Zint / Germany

An endowment established in 1983 through the generosity of Nancy and Robin Hanes supports the Art Department’s Visiting Artist Series. This important program brings both established and emerging artists to campus to discuss their work in public lectures and to offer individual critiques to our M.F.A. students.  The Hanes Visiting Artist series greatly enriches both our academic programs and our outreach to the wider community.  All lectures are free and open to the public.

Hanes Visiting Artist Lecture Series
Robert Jacobs, Nuclear Historian, Hiroshima City University
October 29, 2019
5:30 pm
121 Hanes Art Center
Reception following lecture with a pop-up Sloane Art Library table of nuclear-related books

Admission: Free
Gallery Hours: Monday-Friday, 8 am-5 pm

APG website: www.atomicphotographers.com
Image credit: Berlyn Brixner, Trinity, 1945

Harley Cowen upcoming exhibitions


APG member Harley Cowan has worked featured in “Notch Code,” a show of large format film in the current issue of the online magazine Light Leaked. Fourteen portfolios total were selected. http://www.lightleaked.com/exhibition-notch-code.html and  an upcoming solo exhibit of my Manhattan Project portfolio at Camerawork Gallery in Portland, Oregon for the month of August. There will be a reception and talk on Friday, August 9th at 6:30pm. Camerawork is the oldest continually operating photography gallery in the U.S.  https://thecameraworkgallery.org/upcoming-exhibitions-cwg/


Preservation of the Manhattan Project


With an agreement signed on June 28, 2019, the Atomic Heritage Foundation and the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History (pictured) are forging a new partnership to preserve the history of the Manhattan Project and the Atomic Age. This significant agreement will ensure that the Atomic Heritage Foundation’s extensive collection of oral histories, interpretive vignettes, and articles about the Manhattan Project and its legacy will remain available to the public for the foreseeable future.
Founded in 2002, the Atomic Heritage Foundation (AHF) is a nonprofit organization in Washington, DC that successfully led efforts to create a Manhattan Project National Historical Park. Established in 2015, the Manhattan Project National Historical Park has three sites: Los Alamos, NM, Hanford, WA and Oak Ridge, TN. As founder and President Cindy Kelly says, “Over the past two decades, AHF has created a broad array of educational and interpretive resources on the Manhattan Project. We are delighted to partner with the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History to ensure that AHF’s online resources remain available to audiences worldwide.”
Museum Director Jim Walther is equally enthusiastic. “AHF’s websites will greatly enhance the Museum’s online presence. We intend to make full use of the content to enrich our education programs and the museum’s interpretive displays. AHF’s partnership perfectly complements the Museum’s strategic plans for the future.”
The partnership with the Museum is very timely. After 17 years, AHF is closing its physical offices in downtown Washington, DC. With less than 3 percent of World War II veterans still alive, AHF has seen its base of Manhattan Project supporters dwindle over the past several years. With foundations favoring current weapons policy and advocacy organizations and little government support, AHF has found it increasingly difficult to sustain a fully staffed office in downtown Washington, DC.
AHF will continue to be managed by President Cindy Kelly who plans to work with the Museum on the transition and selected projects. Kelly comments, “I have personally enjoyed working with Museum Director Jim Walther for nearly 25 years and look forward to continuing our partnership.”
For nearly two decades, AHF has recorded hundreds of oral histories of Manhattan Project veterans and published dozens more discovered in university and private archives. AHF’s goal has been to engage diverse audiences, especially younger generations, in learning about the Manhattan Project. Through first-hand accounts and programs on YouTube, AHF has successfully attracted a very youthful audience with over half under age 35. Last year, 1.6 million people accessed AHF’s online resources. AHF’s website audience continues to grow at rates over 30 percent per year.
With a robust summer camp and science education programs, the Museum welcomes AHF’s audio/visual programs on scientific innovations that are part of the “Ranger in Your Pocket” series. Museum director Jim Walther observes, “Incorporating AHF’s resources into the Museum’s current and future educational programs will be especially valuable for middle and high school students.”
As Richard Rhodes, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and AHF Board Member writes, “The Manhattan Project was tragic, ironic and epic, but most of all intensely human.” To capture the humanity of the Manhattan Project, AHF has published nearly 600 oral histories on the “Voices of the Manhattan Project” website. The website includes interviews with J. Robert Oppenheimer and General Leslie Groves, the project’s scientific and military leaders, as well as with hundreds of others including women, Native Americans, African-Americans and Hispanos whose stories are often overlooked.
AHF’s main website at atomicheritage.org has hundreds of pages of articles on the history of World War II and the Manhattan Project. One of its most popular features is a database of Manhattan Project participants. Because the Manhattan Project was a top-secret effort, the government did not keep public records. AHF’s directory of 14,000 Manhattan Project veterans is extremely popular online. The Museum is considering having a kiosk so that visitors can search for relatives and others who were part of the project.
AHF and the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History have just begun to explore that many ways in which their partnership can benefit the public. Founded in 1969 and chartered by the U.S. Congress, the Museum is dedicated to preserving the scientific, historic, and cultural aspects of the Atomic Age. Since 2009, the Museum has been at 601 Eubank Boulevard on several acres of land in Albuquerque. Surrounding the museum’s modern building are a B-29 bomber, several rockets and a recreation of the 100-foot Trinity Tower.
As one possibility, in the future visitors might be able to stand under the tower and listen to one of AHF’s oral histories with Lilli Hornig. A chemist on the project, Lilli talks about how her young husband Donald F. Hornig spent the night of the Trinity test atop the tower in a metal shack, babysitting the “Gadget” (pictured) while lightning and violent thunderstorms passed nearby. Hornig concluded that if lightning set off the bomb, “I’d never know about it! So I read my book.”
As one of its first projects, the Museum hopes to upgrade and integrate AHF’s and its own websites. Over time, the Museum hopes to expand the oral histories to include those of Cold War veterans. As Jim Walther remarked, “We are very excited to explore all the possibilities of this new partnership with AHF. It is a fortuitous development with great potential for the Museum and for the preservation of the Manhattan Project history.”

David McMillan: Growth and Decay: Pripyat and the Chernobyl


Growth and Decay CoverSteidl Books has published a new book by David McMillan: Growth and Decay: Pripyat and the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, April 23, 2019.

Since 1994 Scottish-born Canadian photographer David McMillan (born 1945) has journeyed 21 times to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. Inspired by his teenage memories of Nevil Shute’s On the Beach (1957), a disturbing vision of the world following nuclear war, McMillan found in Pripyat the embodiment of an irradiated city still standing but void of human life. As one of the first artists to gain access to “The Zone,” McMillan initially explored the evacuated areas with few constraints and in solitude, save for an occasional scientist monitoring the effects of radioactivity. Returning year after year enabled him to revisit the sites of earlier photographs―sometimes fortuitously, sometimes by design―bearing witness to the forces of nature as they reclaimed the abandoned communities. Above all, his commitment has been to probe the relentless dichotomy between growth and decay in The Zone.

Steidl Books
262 pages, 200 images
Hardback / Clothbound
ISBN 978-3-95829-397-7
1. Edition 01/2019

Ed Westcott, a Singular Eye at the Dawn of the Atomic Age, Dies at 97


Ed Westcott chronicled the work done at Oak Ridge. Here, in one of his best-known photographs, from 1944, women sat at their stations in the calutron, where uranium isotopes were separated. CreditEd Westcott/United States Department of Energy, Oak Ridge

Ed Westcott, a photographer who documented life in Oak Ridge, Tenn., the secret city where uranium was enriched as part of the Manhattan Project to develop the atom bomb during World War II, died on March 29 at his daughter’s home in Oak Ridge, where he also still lived. He was 97.

Read Richard Sandomir’s 


Harley Cowan joins the APG


A Cathedral of Science

The APG is pleased to announce the acceptance of Harley Cowan into the Guild. His large format series taken in 2017 of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park in Washington is an important addition to the APG archives and documents the exterior and interior of Reactor B, the world’s first full-scale nuclear reactor which produced plutonium for the nuclear bombs detonated in Trinity, New Mexico, and Nagasaki, Japan.

Harley grew up in Richland, Washington next to the Hanford Nuclear Reservation and combined with his experience in architectural heritage documentation and preservation work with the Library of Congress has produced an intimate record of American nuclear industry and infrastructure.

More of Harley’s work can be found at https://www.harleycowan.com/

Image: The loading face of B Reactor (1944), from A Cathedral of Science, Manhattan Project National Historical Park, Washington (2017)

Invisible Colors: The Arts of the Atomic Age by Gabrielle Decamous


Invisible Colors jacketInvisible Colors The Arts of the Atomic Age is a monumental work by Gabriele Decamous published by MIT Press that surveys the ways by which art, worldwide, can help make visible what has long been in obscurity – the effects of radioactivity, the lives of radiation-impacted survivors, and the politics of the nuclear age.

Decamous’ fine-tuned radar for finding nuclear art throughout the globe makes this volume a landmark collection of nuclear imagery that explores atomic-inspired art from Marie Curie to the A-bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Chernobyl disaster, the still-unfolding triple meltdowns of Fukushima, and a wide array of other atomic events that have marked our deep, brief, everlasting nuclear history.

Decamous looks at the “Radium Literature” based on the work and life of Marie Curie; “A-Bomb literature” by Hibakusha (bomb survivor) artists from Nagasaki and Hiroshima; responses to the bombings by Western artists and writers; art from the irradiated landscapes of the Cold War—nuclear test sites and uranium mines, mainly in the Pacific and some African nations; and nuclear accidents in Fukushima, Chernobyl, and Three Mile Island. She finds that the artistic voices of the East are often drowned out by those of the West. Hibakusha art and Japanese photographs of the bombing are little known in the West and were censored; poetry from the Marshall Islands and Moruroa is also largely unknown; Western theatrical and cinematic works focus on heroic scientists, military men, and the atomic mushroom cloud rather than the aftermath of the bombings.

Emphasizing art by artists who were present at these nuclear events—the “global Hibakusha”—rather than those reacting at a distance, Decamous puts Eastern and Western art in dialogue, analyzing the aesthetics and the ethics of nuclear representation.

Black Mist Burnt Country



The exhibition will be officially launched on 27 September 2016 at National Trust S.H. Ervin Gallery in Sydney marking the 60th anniversary of the first British atomic test at Maralinga. It is scheduled to tour ten metropolitan and regional public galleries in four states until 2019.

Taranaki, Hugh-RamageTaranaki, Hugh Ramage

On 27 September 1956 the British exploded an atomic bomb on Pitjantjatjara land in the southern part of the Great Victoria Desert of South Australia. The place would become known as Maralinga. It was the first of seven British atomic tests at Maralinga in 1956 and 1957. These were accompanied by over 600 so called ‘minor trials’ until 1963, which caused additional longterm contamination with highly toxic substances such as plutonium and beryllium.

The Maralinga tests were indeed not the first the British Government conducted on Australian territory. Three atomic devices were detonated in the Montebello archipelago off the coast of Western Australia and further two in Emu Field, about 250 km north of Maralinga. Yet it was the term Maralinga, which means ‘thunder’ in the now-extinct Garik Aboriginal language of the Northern Territory, which gave this dark part of Australian history its iconic name.

Atomic testing in Australia resulted in the forced removal of its original inhabitants, the Anangu Pitjantjatjara people, and their exposure, as well as that of military and civil personnel to radiation. The test program caused radioactive fall-out across the Australian continent and resulted in the  desecration and devastation of Aboriginal country.

Black Mist Burnt Country is a national touring exhibition concerned with the British atomic tests in Australia in the 1950s and ‘60s. It revisits the events and locations through the artworks of Indigenous and non-Indigenous contemporary artists across the mediums of painting, print-making, sculpture, photography, video and new media.

The works in the exhibition collectively span a period of seven decades, from the first atomic test in Hiroshima and the post-WW II era, through the times of anti-nuclear protest in the late 1970s and early 1980s to the present day.