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Published August 26, 2008
byline: Brad Turner
Longmont Times-Call


DENVER — Artist Tim Loughlin drew a mixed response Monday morning when he and his group erected a mosque-shaped tent adorned with canvas photographs of Iranian people.

Some visitors shook his hand and complimented him on the project, which includes 10-foot-tall canvas photos of Iranians in both traditional and Western garb as they kayak, ride in bumper cars and pray.

But one man was enraged and said he wished he had dynamite so he could blow up the exhibit, which stands in Denver’s Civic Center Park, Loughlin said. Organizers calmed the man down after explaining their goal for the project.

“We’re trying to show what life is like for Iranians, that Iranians are human beings,” Loughlin said.

Another man, an Iraq war veteran, told Loughlin he disliked the display and said Iran is feeding arms to the people killing American soldiers in Iraq.

Loughlin said the blue and purple tent, which houses the “pictures of you: Images from Iran” exhibit, is meant to create a dialogue.

Loughlin said he dreamed up the project after visiting Iran in 2006. Though he had read about the country and its culture extensively before the visit, he said he found the people to be amazingly similar to Americans. And the Iranians treated him especially well because he is an American, he said.

“I felt so many familiar things in the culture,” he said. “There are so many parallels.”

Loughlin is a member of the Manjushri Project, a group named after a figure in Buddhism who shows people truth, he said. The group is nonpolitical, he stressed, and strives to shed light on global issues. A previous exhibit examined the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to raise questions about the government’s performance before and after Gulf Coast disaster.

By Monday afternoon, most of the people who had visited it supported the concept of the exhibit.

“They’re just photos of people from a different place. But there’s a shared humanity,” Pamela Harris of Denver said.

“I thought everybody looked very friendly,” Brad Clemmons of Denver said of the photos.

Loughlin said the exhibit will remain open through tonight. He plans to make it a travelling exhibit.


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