WILMINGTON — Trees that survived the 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, are known as hibakujumoku. Some 77 years after the nuclear blasts, these survivor trees continue to signify the vulnerability of life in the face of nuclear threats. Tagged and carefully tended, each is a witness to a catastrophic encounter with nuclear attack.
Wilmington College is hosting a photography exhibit, titled “Rooted Among the Ashes: Hibakujumoku/The A-Bombed Trees,” Aug. 6 through Dec. 13, weekdays, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., in the Meriam R. Hare Quaker Heritage Center Gallery.
An exhibit opening on Aug. 6 — the 77th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing — from 4 to 6 p.m. will feature a talk by the photographer, Katy McCormick, at 5 p.m. The event is free of charge and open to the public.
For more than a decade, McCormick has examined Japan’s A-bombed landscapes. Standing in school yards, temple grounds and city squares, the surviving trees are living memorials rooted among the ashes just below the surfaces of now-thriving cities.
McCormick noted that the exhibition is predicated on walking and remembrance. “It invites a promenade through space and time, memory and history, urging reflection upon how the past haunts the present — warning, teaching, urging care.”
McCormick’s photographs examine commemorative sites, revealing narratives and social histories embedded in landscapes. Other projects include The Ash Garden: Hiroshima Under a Rain a Ruin, a book that foregrounds documentation of the disaster and the city in the present time, and a video entitled Nagasaki 11:02, presented in 2017 at the Society for Photographic Education annual conference. On August 6th, 2020, she cohosted the 75th Anniversary Commemoration (via webcast) with disarmament advocate and Hiroshima survivor Setsuko Thurlow, organized by the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Day Coalition. McCormick is co-director of the Documentary Media Research Centre and associate professor of photography at Ryerson University. She is a member of the Atomic Photographer’s Guild.
This May, her images were presented at the world premiere of Steve Heitzeg’s orchestral work commemorating the atomic bombings, “Green Hope after Black Rain,” with Saint Paul (MN)
Civic Symphony. Recent publications of her work include Place Matters: Critical Topographies in Word and Image, published by McGill-Queens University Press.