Honoring Those Who’ve Passed On

Circe Olson Woessner

Because we understand that people experience and learn things differently and to make our museum more interesting and accessible, it is important that we provide a variety of exhibits and hands-on activities covering many different topics.

Two recent projects combine audio and video recordings and music –and a great deal of creativity.

Last month, we finished shooting our short documentary musical film Love Song for the Dead: Honoring the Sacrifice & Service of New Mexico’s Military Families.

Having never made a movie before, we didn’t know what to expect.  As with many things that happen with our museum, however, we lucked into a college intern with a film degree who was looking for a short gig, and we received some grant funding from New Mexico Arts, the RFTW Benevolence Fund, and from Highlands University.  We also had several of our board members motivated to work on the project.

The idea behind the movie was to create a ten-minute documentary using stories from service members and their families who have experienced the loss of a loved one and to compose a song using elements from each of their stories weaving them together into one complete work.

In June, over two days, we filmed seven family members and four local musicians at the museum.

Christopher Killion, the filmmaker and a veteran, skillfully blended the narrative and the music together to make a cohesive piece. Chris also inserted images shot in various locations in New Mexico, such as the National Cemetery in Santa Fe and the Sandoval County Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Bernalillo.

In September, Jose Ponce, our Media Artist-in-Residence, and VA Chaplain Kristen Milton performed the completed song in the VA Medical Center’s chapel.

While simple, the film is very powerful and the song poignant. It points out that military families cope with effects of military service—even long after the service member is no longer serving or has passed away. It is a tribute to the fallen and an acknowledgement of the lasting effects of war.

Our second project was inspired by a phone booth in Japan named the Telephone of the Wind and is a collaboration between the University of New Mexico’s Arts-In-Medicine Program and our museum.

The “Lines Across Time Memory Booth” was created to be a safe space for service members, veterans and their family to share their feelings anonymously and leave messages for lost loved ones.

The premise of the memory booth is to provide an opportunity for people to “call” someone and “talk” to them, even if they are not physically connected through an operating telephone line. Throughout the project, the person using the “phone” will choose the option to record, or not record, their conversation. At certain times, the phone will function as a listening line, where there will be someone on the other line, simply listening supportively to the caller; other times the phone will not be connected to service but will instead function as a safe place for one to go and be with their own thoughts and to symbolically reach out to whomever they wish with whatever words they have to say.

This fall we are building a mobile booth that will allow us to bring this project to different locations and events around the state.

On November 3, we will premier our film in the museum and invite people to participate in our Lines Across Time. The event will run from 1:00-5:30 with Love Songfor the Deadbeing shown at 3:00 and 5:00. Donations gladly accepted.





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