"For the Record" is an independent project that re-examines art that addresses war and global conflict in our time. It's an outgrowth of a conversation that began over a decade ago between painter Rob Roy, whose work often deals with that theme, and Gordon Arnold, who writes about film, politics, and cultural memory.

It's also the title of an exhibition, which is one iteration of the broader idea, at Montserrat College of Art in fall 2011. That exhibit was produced in conjunction with Montserrat.

This website is owned and maintained by the Project organizers as an independent entity, but this site also includes information about the 2011 exhibition of the same name at Montserrat College of Art.

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In the course of discussions over many years, Rob Roy and Gordon Arnold have discussed the question of objectivity in art dealing with controversial or hot-button themes. Specifically, they have speculated about a kind of art-making that is more than an illustration of pre-existing political perspectives, but which instead results in work that looks at such topics aesthetically and experientially. They've asked: How can art about war and global conflict function more than as a polemical representation of a pre-existing political opinion? In thinking about this question, they have talked about image-making in which the artist sets personal ideological inclinations aside as much as possible and instead attempts to look at the theme in ways that push other considerations to the foreground.

The 2011 exhibition "For the Record: Searching for Objectivity in Global Conflict" brought together artists whose works seem to help answer such questions.  No claim is made that the works are completely objective. Indeed, that may not be possible; humans come to their experiences with beliefs formed by their previous experiences. Yet, the works in the exhibition appear to be much more than rote visualizations of pre-existing political belief. They project an aura of authenticity that is reflective of artists who are approaching situations that are complex, traumatic, and often violent in nature, trying to see such situations as they are. In a way, these works about war and conflict help us see for ourselves the meaning in these situations, rather than tell us exactly what meanings we are "supposed" to have about them. They are, in a way, about experience that is prior to sense-making, and as such, they encourage us to think for ourselves.

An exhibition entitled "For the Record" was shown at the Gallery of Montserrat College of Art from August 22 to October 22, 2011. We hope that this exhibit, produced in collaboration with the Montserrat Gallery, is the beginning of a longer conversation involving many people. Currently, we're  exploring bringing slightly different versions of the exhibition to other venues at a future date. Please contact us for more information or with any inquiries.


The PROJECT: For the Record

The Project
  • Rob Roy, MFA, artist and Professor of Painting & Drawing at Montserrat College of Art
  • Gordon Arnold, PhD, writer and Professor of Liberal Arts at Montserrat College of Art
The exhibition at Montserrat College of Art
  • Curated by Rober Roy, Gordon Arnold, and Leonie Bradbury (Gallery Director, Montserrat College of Art)

Funding support for the exhibition at Montserrat College of Art, and for related events, was generously provided by a Faculty Development Grant and by the Luz Dorrien Faculty Development Award at Montserrat College of Art and by a grant from the Beverly Cultural Council of the City of Beverly, Massachusetts.

Images: (above left) Rob Roy, Witness #41. Copyrighted image. used by permission. (above right) Cover of the book The Afterlife of America's War in Vietnam.

This website is an independent project and not affiliated with any organization.