Soldiers and Civilians:

 Imagery of the Spanish Civil War

The Spanish Civil War began in 1936 and ended in 1939 with the establishment of Francisco Franco’s nearly 40 year-long dictatorship. Considered a precursor and testing ground for the German and Italian fascist forces in the years leading up to WWII, Spain stands as a painful example of what can happen when other established democracies of the world fail to intervene to protect a more fragile one.

 

This exhibition, featuring posters, lithographs, prints, postcards, a book, and food rations, reflects not only the heightened ideological tensions of the Spanish Civil War, but also includes tender and emotional moments regarding the human toll of the war on civilian men, women, and children. Some images provide poignant glimpses into everyday scenes of how war weaves into everyday spaces, impacting all who live through it. Death, loss, absence, fear, defiance, and rage dominate some images, while others demonstrate deep tenderness. Other images are overtly political in nature and insist that the viewer peer beyond the image to understand and absorb their request to directly or tacitly participate in a particular action or ideological point of view.

 

 


  
 

Soldiers

 Gallery 1 examines overt propaganda pieces engaging either the Nationalist or Republican support for the war.

Civilians

 Gallery 2 focuses on impacts to civilian life as the Spanish Civil War infiltrated the everyday existence of families, especially women and children.  

Contemporary Responses

Poem by Melinda Balades

A civil war from almost a hundred years past

From 1936 to 1939, the Spanish fight would last

From every vein, the shed of blood

Each death a drop, the sum a flood

 

But first, begin the story with the end of an empire

Then watch as flickers of light become a raging fire

Next, stand back as divisions in the nation become divisions of soldiers

Now kneel among the remnants of freedom while it smolders

 

Fascism stands victorious, but the defeated still have more to lose

If those who remain wish to live, they must give up their right to think and choose

Suffer in silence or be killed in a massacre

Then when the dictatorship is over, allow the government to pretend it did not occur

Poem by Charlotte Olivia

Acknowledgements

Soldiers and Civilians was curated by the students of Spanish 255 who spent the second mod during the fall of 2020 studying the art, literature, and film related to the Spanish Civil War. The class and Professor Tibbitts would like to extend their deepest thanks to the Wright Museum staff for their advice, support, guidance, and flexibility during this most unusual semester. 

 

This exhibition is generously supported through the George S. Parker II Endowed Exhibition Fund. Each fall this fund supports one class curated exhibition. The Parker Faculty Curator and their students draw upon objects from Beloit College’s campus collections to develop an exhibition mounted at the Wright Museum. The Parker exhibition is an opportunity for students to create connections between texts, images and spaces. It is also an opportunity to move beyond the text and demonstrate the power of images and spaces.

Exhibition Collaborators

Melinda Balades                                       

Henry R. Braun

Fiona Rose Cismesia

Guadalupe Cisneros-Aguilar

Aminah Tatyania  May Crawford

Christian Benjamin Crouse

Olivia B. Farbarik

Garrison Ferone

Diana Flores

Ahnika Franklin

Samuel Joseph Graff

Aryssa Danielle Harris

Jadee Alise Krueger 

Zoe Catherine Landolt

Nathan Daniel Marklin

Brooke Arlene McCammond

David Morris Jr.

Hope Joy Nelson

Charlotte Rosalia Olivia

Andrew Michael Pekny

Benjamin Daniel Sipiora

Amy L. Tibbitts, Ph.D., Professor 

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