What does peace mean to you? That is the central question photographer and storyteller John Noltner has been asking people for his social commentary project, A Peace of My Mind. Noltner will visit Gustavus on Feb. 24-25 to share his multimedia exhibit and speak in Christ Chapel about the project.
Founded in 2009, A Peace of My Mind is a multimedia art project that fosters public dialogue about issues related to conflict resolution, civic responsibility, and peace. With engaging portraits and compelling personal stories, nearly 100 diverse subjects describe what peace means to them, how they work toward it in their lives, and some of the obstacles they encounter along the way.
Those profiled include Holocaust survivors and a homeless man, a Somali refugee and a military chaplain, a pottery instructor and an oil company executive. Artists, volunteers, politicians, and business leaders all share their thoughts and inspiring stories in a series that celebrates our common experience and sense of community.
A Peace of My Mind expanded into the public forum in 2010 with the production of a traveling exhibit, funded through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. Since then, more than 80,000 people have viewed the exhibit at schools, private galleries, community centers, places of worship, libraries, and universities across the country.
At Gustavus, the exhibit will include 53 panels, which will be on display in four different locations: Christ Chapel, Torrey Atrium in Beck Hall, Folke Bernadotte Memorial Library, and the C. Charles Jackson Campus Center. In addition, there will four events involving Noltner and the exhibit that will be open to the public and the campus community:
- Monday, Feb. 24 / 8 p.m. / “A Peace of My Mind Project” / Heritage Room, Campus Center
- Tuesday, Feb. 25 / 10 a.m. / Daily Sabbath Homily / Christ Chapel
- Tuesday, Feb. 25 / 11 a.m. / Reception, viewing, and discussion / Center for Servant Leadership
- Tuesday, Feb. 25 / 4 p.m. / “Bridging Difference With Story” / Diversity Center
Noltner’s work and subject matter is varied, ranging from small town America to overseas projects. His photographs have been published in national magazines including National Geographic Traveler, AARP, Health, Smithsonian, and Business Week.
After 20 years as an award-winning photographer, Noltner has begun working in film, first developing multi-media pieces for non-profits, and recently producing short videos for clients and documentary projects. Over the past decade, he has dedicated an increasing amount of time to in-depth social commentary, combining portraiture, oral histories, and video to examine our society and how we related to one another.
An active local advocate for peace and justice, Nolter is a member of the Peace and Justice Studies Association and the Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers. He served on the board for Lutheran Partners in Global Ministry from 2006 to 2009 and was also a founding board member of Peace House Africa from 1999 to 2002. Noltner has done freelance work for Gustavus including photography for the College’s website and major print publications.