The exhibit tells the story of the USSR and the social, political and industrial norms of the era after World War II, or the Great Patriotic War as it was called in the USSR.
“I think the art reflects the history very well,” Billingsley said. “You’re reflecting a conflict where everyone lost somebody.”
A lot of the art reflects this war and shows the impact it had on the Soviet Union.
“They are all so solemn, kind of dreary looking, every piece has a sense of poignancy to it,” said Grace Knudson, attendee and art major, echoing Dodge Billingsley’s words.
Billingsley also talked about how the art was commissioned by the government in order to install a thought into the minds of citizens. One example he used was on display last semester at the Woodbury art museum of a mother with a stroller. The idea was to convince the citizens of the USSR to have children.
He explained how some of the art also points to Russian hero’s, such as “The Faceless Solider” holding a gun to his head. The piece reflects the true story of a Russian solider in the Great Patriotic War who killed himself rather than allow the Nazis to hold him hostage and kill him
Thirty people attended the talk, including students and professors from universities in the area. Billingsley walked them through each of the rooms and explained the multiple works, telling how he managed to acquire the pieces. Some of the stories he told were about spending time in the former Soviet Union in the early nineties and having to bribe boarder agents to stamp his passport or getting shot at as a prank.
The Global Spotlight Russia: Military exhibit will remain at the Woodbury museum on the second floor of the University Mall for a few more weeks. There is a computer playing an interview with Dodge Billingsley talking about the artwork for those who were not able attend the talk. Private collectors own all art on display, and this is their first public viewing.