Community art project will memorialize faces of Bosnian War

HAD Collective artists Damir Sarač, Muhamed Bešlagić- Hamo, and Anel Lepić. Photo by Ilhana Babić

The sounds of chisels, hammers and other sculpting tools will fill the courtyard of the Kentucky Museum at Western Kentucky University this week as students and community members create wall carvings to memorialize victims of the Bosnian War.

Throughout the week, Bosnian artists representing the HAD Collective will lead workshops to create two semi-permanent art installations, which the public is welcome to observe.

“They approach these places as sketchbooks,” said professor Yvonne Petkus of WKU’s art department.

Visiting artists with the HAD Collective include Muhamed Beslagic-Hamo, Anel Lepic and collaborating videographer Ilhana Babic, according to a news release.

“Making already forgotten human beings alive, visible and important to everybody else is what we intend to achieve with our artwork,” a statement from the collective said. “We use all kinds of hard surfaces, mainly walls – we scratch, carve and engrave wall layers to achieve depth and create the form of a human portrait, often choosing everyday people from all sides of the world.”

As part of their visit, the group will also speak about their work at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Grise Hall auditorium. The public is invited to attend this free event. Free parking will also be provided in the North Normal and Mimosa Point lots on Normal Street. A reception will be held after the event in the Main University Art Gallery on the second floor of the Ivan Wilson Fine Arts Center.

By using hammers, drills, chisels and paint, the group is known for transforming abandoned spaces into human portraits and places of remembrance.

“Their work is just so powerful and meaningful,” Petkus said.

Petkus met the group during a trip she took to Bosnia in May as part of the Zuheir Sofia Endowed International Faculty Seminar program.

Since her trip, Petkus has been asking her students to create similar artwork in her classes, and she’s also curated an exhibition called “Proof of Existence: An Exhibit of Work by Contemporary Artists of Bosnian and Balkan Origin.” It’s on display in the Main University Art Gallery in the Fine Arts Center until April 6. Gallery hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Workshops at the Kentucky Museum will be open to observe throughout the week. However, participation may by limited, and those interested should email Petkus at

Workshop times include:

  • 2 to 5 p.m. Monday.
  • 9:15 a.m. to noon Tuesday.
  • 9:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Wednesday.
  • 9:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. and 2 to 5 p.m. Thursday.
  • 9 a.m. to noon Friday.

– Follow education reporter Aaron Mudd on Twitter @BGDN_edbeat or visit


Education reporter. Covers education and related issues, focusing primarily on the Bowling Green and Warren County public school districts and Western Kentucky University.

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