Recycling Books of Hate Into Artistic Virtue

January 2, 2010

(ChattahBox)—What to do with thousands of books of hate-filled white supremacist screeds? Besides the obvious burning solution, perhaps all of that paper permanently stamped with evil and racism could be recycled into something good? And that’s what Montana Human Rights Network director Ken Toole decided to do with the tomes penned by former white supremacist Ben Klassen, author of 13 white separatist books, including the “White Man’s Bible” and founder of the racist group World Church of the Creator, now known as the Creativity Movement. Toole turned the books of hate over to an art museum in Montana, with the idea of transforming them into a positive force to shine the light on the genesis of racism and prejudice in our society.

And the result is a traveling art exhibit of 100 works of art by 40 artists incorporating Klassen’s vile books called, “Speaking Volumes: Transforming Hate.”

Katie Knight, a local artist and social activist spearheaded the project for the Holter Museum of Art in Helena. She said the response from artists around the country was overwhelming and the submissions are as diverse, as the artists themselves. Some artists turned the pages of hate into a pulpy mixture to produce totally new pieces of art. Others altered the words of a racist into a message of goodness.

With the exhibit nearly complete, Knight still had thousands of white separatist titles remaining, such as “On the Brink of Bloody Racial War” and “Building a Whiter, Brighter World.” Montana artist Dana Boussard approached Knight with the idea of building a house with the remaining books. Broussard created a piece called, “Hate Begins At Home,” featuring a 10-by-10-foot house built from 3,000 books and the words of a white supremacist.

Broussard’s goal was to get across to the public that children learn hate and racism from adults. “What we wanted to do with the piece was speak to the idea that hatred and racism really does begin at home; you’re not born that way,” said Boussard. “A child is essentially an innocent mind, and it’s what happens with the family and peers that change innocence into prejudice.”

Klassen committed suicide in 1993 and Matt Hale, who took over leadership of the Creativity Movement, is serving a 40-year prison term for soliciting an undercover FBI informant to kill a federal judge. Members of the group believe that white supremacy is a religion and that the white race is “nature’s highest creation” and “white people are the creators of all worthwhile culture and civilization.”

The unique exhibit is currently showing at the Montana Museum of Art and Culture through March 6.

Source: The Missoulian

Photo Source: Lee Curtis, mixed-media artwork, 2007


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