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According to Human Rights Watch, the largest human-rights organization based in the United States, there are as many as 300,000 children participating in armed conflicts in more than 30 countries worldwide. While many are forcibly recruited, others are pushed into conflict by economic or social reasons. Deadly weapons, such as AK-47s, are placed in the hands of children only eight years old. Last summer, news of Liberia’s civil war made American papers, bringing with it photographs of children who had become involved in the conflict. Inspired by those images, artist Josh Arseneau immersed himself in the subject of child soldiers, which became the focus of his senior thesis. The result is an engaging portfolio of artwork that portrays the plight of these children in West Africa through various media. In the process of exploring cultural connections with his subjects, Josh revisited his own childhood to compare and contrast it with the lives of the child soldiers. In doing so, he discovered points of commonality through human emotions and symbols of childhood, which he shares with viewers through his work. Josh recently graduated from Pacific Northwest College of Art, where he received the C.S. Price award for best painter.

The interviewer: Kenji Mizumori, InTheFray Campus Liaison
The interviewee: Josh Arseneau, artist

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