I’ve been travelling on the Neutron Trail, learning about our shared nuclear legacy for a decade (really a lifetime). At times randomly, at times with some passionate focus – studying, researching, talking with physicists, survivors and activists, travelling to places like Los Alamos, New Mexico where the first atomic bomb was engineered, including making nuclear art with dancers and poets.
This Thursday and Friday Nov 11 and 12 I’ll be sharing my experiences at the Eastwood Onley Gallery here in Vancouver. [Feedback on that in the UPDATE at the bottom of post.] Images form the heart of the talk, with a mix of my own and archival photos, cartoons, illustrations and even a little of Georgia O’Keeffe who lived and painted near Los Alamos.
A challenge for me is culling and synthesizing such a vast amount of material and experience into an evening presentation. How much should I let the individual images and insights speak for themselves? When should I summarize and highlight major themes and trends I’ve noticed?
A few years ago I began ad hoc interviews on the street with a diverse range of people on here in Vancouver and across the continent in New York City. It’s turned out to be a very useful kind of market research, resulting in a presentation which people — across generations, cultures and professions — tell me is meaningful, worthwhile and enjoyable. Many friends and colleagues have and continue to generously review the material and offer wise and cogent feedback at all phases of evolution.
A special thanks to Jerome Friedman, who went to parties at my grandparents home well before I was born and who was Enrico’s last graduate student. We met for the first time a little over a year ago and I became fast friends with him and his wife Tania. Jerry has given me valuable insights, only he could give, that enrich the Neutron Trail. As well he has officially endorsed the project:
“The story of the Neutron Trail recounts some of the most significant events of the 20th Century. Olivia Fermi, the grand daughter of the central figure in unleashing the energy of the atom, tells a story that touches on remarkable achievement and triumph, but also on destruction and the continuing threat to human society. Her account of events is engrossing and thought provoking, and I am glad that she has taken on the task of engaging the public in these issues.” – Jerome Friedman, Nobel laureate, MIT Professor Emeritus of Physics, founding Board Member of the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology
Both Neutron Trail – Elemental talks sold out and we had two lively evenings. Here’s a sampling of responses:
“I just saw Olivia’s talk last night On the Neutron Trail. It was fantastic, smart, educational and inspired!” – Linda Solomon, Vancouver Observer Coverage here.
“I was really glad to finally attend one of your sessions. Your story is fascinating and thought-provoking on so many levels. I know it will yet evolve further as you expand your gaze and search onwards. And do try to get it into high schools. I see it as a multi-disciplinary attraction – math, physics, history, psychology…. ” – Esther Chetner, VP Leadership Development, JCC Vancouver
“Olivia, you are a brilliant artist and a brave soul. Your Neutron Trail presentation is profound and enlightening. I love how you fill it with personal touches, far beyond newspaper headlines. You have shown great strength of heart, wisdom and conviction to bring this fascinating story to us. Thank you. – Tom Tompkins, Community Arts Organizer and Translink Bus Driver