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John Noltner

A Peace of My Mind
Interviews and Photographs by John Noltner


     April 1 – May 12, 2013
     W.R. Davies Student Center, Level 3 Corridor; also in

     Haas Fine Arts Center, Hibbard Hall, McIntyre Library


     Tuesday, April 9, 2013
     Alumni Room, Davies Center 350
     7 p.m.

A Peace of My Mind is a photographic project that asks us to consider the common humanity that we all share — to look for the human goodness that is all around. Award-winning photographer and author John Noltner, a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, has spent the past three years exploring the meaning of peace. Noltner has asked the question, “What does peace mean to you?” of ordinary people with extraordinary stories, and their answers have opened up a public dialogue about issues related to conflict resolution, civic responsibility and peace. 

The exhibit explores the meaning of peace through the portraits and personal stories of 52 diverse subjects. Each subject is showcased on a 24-inch by 36-inch canvas gallery wrap that consists of a black-and-white photographic portrait by Noltner along with the subject’s name, a short biography, and a 250-word excerpt from their interview about what peace means to them. 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 stories. In 2010, the series was produced as a traveling exhibit, in part through funding from the Minnesota State Arts Board, that has been hosted nationally by colleges, libraries, galleries and community groups.

“Politically, ethnically, religiously, we expend an enormous amount of energy looking at the things that divide us," Noltner has said. "I believe we would do well to spend some time and energy looking of the things that unite us.”

A freelance photographer based in Minneapolis, Noltner specializes in images of people, lifestyle and travel. For 20 years he has made images around town and around the world. Projects have taken him to corporate boardrooms as well as developing nations. His interest in people, his curiosity, and a sense of humor give his images insight and depth.

Noltner received a degree in communication and journalism from UW-Eau Claire in 1990. His photos have been published in numerous regional and national magazines, including Forbes, Health, Midwest Living, National Geographic Traveler, World Traveler, Reader’s Digest and Smithsonian. His fine art photographs have been exhibited nationally and are included in corporate and private collections as well as the permanent collections of the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota History Center.

In 2008, Noltner began a documentary project he called A Peace of My Mind. It was born out of a desire to give a voice to people who believe in peace. The project grew into a website, a series of podcasts, and ultimately a book. With a foreword written by Ela Gandhi, granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi, A Peace of My Mind received a 2011 Midwest Book Award gold medallion and was silver medalist in the 2012 Independent Publishers Book Awards.

The spotlight of the April 9 reception in the Alumni Room of Davies Center will be the local additions to the exhibit created by UW-Eau Claire students working with community members. This local part of the A Peace of My Mind project is sponsored by the UW-Eau Claire Foundation, with the results becoming part of the university collection.

The exhibit begins a campus event that includes classroom conversations on diversity and a series of artist-in-residence workshops. It culminates in a second Forum Special presentation, a lecture by Ela Gandhi on Tuesday, May 7, 2013.

A Forum Special

Cosponsored by Academic Affairs, Affirmative Action, Alumni Association, University Centers, University Foundation and the Visiting Minority Scholar/Artist Program
Admission is free and open to all




Feature story by Ann Hoffman, April 23, 2103