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The folks at the Holter Museum of Art have taken something deeply ugly and hurtful and turned it into something both positive and profoundly thought provoking. Beginning on Friday of next week, you’ll get a chance to take a look.


The exhibit is called “Speaking Volumes: Transforming Hate.” It will run from Jan. 25 through April 15, after which it will travel to 10 other Montana cities and towns and eventually tour nationally.


The show’s story began when the Human Rights Network acquired 4,000 volumes of white supremacist propaganda from a defecting official of the World Church of the Creator. The network approached the Holter, suggesting the books might be used to create art.

More than 100 artists in Montana and across the country responded to the museum’s call for submissions that reflect on the hate literature or transform it, including nationally famous artists specializing in social and political issues. For the show, the Holter chose about 60 pieces, a few by children.


The art varies widely from paintings, photography and sculpture to many detailed and inventive installations, including such clever ideas as a giant mouse trap using a hate-filled book as bait and a kitchen table covered with decorated cookies that repeatedly spell out the word “hate.” The idea is to challenge the viewers’ comfort zones and confront them with unsettling perspectives in a way that “opens the way for turning dark into light.”


We were given an advance look at photographs of many of the pieces and found them fascinating and disquieting at the same time. The exhibit is sure to be the talk of the town, eye-opening for many and certainly disturbing for some.


In short, it is exactly the kind of innovative and thoughtful exhibit that makes the Holter Museum of Art such a valuable enhancement to our community.

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