An art exhibit that opened at the American Museum of Science and Energy today features paintings based on the Atomic Age and “Doomtowns,” replica cities built in Nevada to test the effects of atomic bombs in the 1950s.
This exhibit—”an exploration of atomic testing phenomena and subsequent 1950s atomic culture”—is called “DOOMTOWN.” It features original paintings by Doug Waterfield, an associate art professor at the University of Nebraska at Kearney.
“It is a commentary on a bygone age of American history, and is an effort to bring awareness to the past known as the Atomic Age—an age of optimism, technological advances, and unmitigated paranoia,” an AMSE press release said.
The press release said the Atomic Energy Commission, which preceded the U.S. Department of Energy, built the “Doomtowns,” also known as “Survival Towns,” at the Nevada Test Site. Warfield’s paintings were influenced by the photos and film footage that survive from those tests.
“I first became interested in atomic testing while watching some documentaries on the Trinity test and the Nevada Test Site,” Waterfield said. “I was particularly interested in the ‘survival towns.’ These were recreations of what was considered to be the quintessential American town, populated by mannequins, and then lit up by atomic blasts to see what the effects would be. I couldn’t get that idea out of my head.”
Part of his mission, Waterfield said, is to educate the public.
“I don’t want to take a political view on the morality of atomic testing; people already know what to think of that,” Waterfield said. “I want to take this little known aspect of our history as a world power and shed a little light on it—that’s all.”
Waterfield is an Arkansas native who now lives in Nebraska with his family, and his work has been shown nationally for the past 25 years, the press release said.
“DOOMTOWN” is at AMSE from Oct. 12—Jan. 20.
AMSE is located at 300 S. Tulane Ave.
For more information, visit www.amse.org.