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Artist, speaker will each address issues of resistance to war

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Bethel College will host a one-day exhibit of anti-war sculpture by a local artist in conjunction with a lecture and conference on war tax resistance in early November.

Beth Vannatta, who often goes by the name “Piglet,” is a retired art teacher and a lifetime resident of Halstead. She taught at Hutchinson High School for 27 years, from 1969-96, and was a part-time instructor in jewelry design at Hutchinson Community College, 1987-99.

In more recent years, Vannatta has become “so incensed at the casualties of war,” she says, that she decided to create a series of anti-war sculptures and take the exhibit, which she calls “The wages of war,” on the road. It premiered earlier this year, in May, at a two-day conference called “Creating a culture of peace” in Santa Fe, N.M., and was on display for four days in June at the Unitarian Universalist General Assembly in Portland, Ore.

She took the exhibit to the Veterans for Peace conference in St. Louis, Aug. 15-18, where she was “so impressed with that group that I joined and became an auxiliary member.” At the conference, she found out about the Sept. 15 march in Washington, D.C., against the Iraq war, and traveled there for the march and to show her sculptures at a Church of the Brethren-Mennonite Sunday school class in Hyattsville, Md., and then at All Souls’ Unitarian Church in Washington.

“The wages of war” is currently on display at the Hutchinson Art Center, 405 N. Washington, through Oct. 28.

It will have a one-day installation in the small gallery, just outside the main Bethel College Gallery, in the Fine Arts Center, Friday, Nov. 2, from 11 a.m. until after the lecture in Krehbiel Auditorium that evening. The exhibit is being mounted in connection with the first KIPCOR Peace Lecture for the school year by Alan Gamble, executive director of the National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund (NCPTF) and the Peace Tax Foundation.

The exhibit will then move to the Meadowlark Center at 2111 N. Spencer Road in Newton for a Nov. 3 conference on war tax resistance being held there. The conference is sponsored by a local group, the Heartland Peace Tax Group, in conjunction with the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee.

Vannatta has her B.A. in education from Fort Hays State College (now University) plus graduate hours from Wichita State University. She lives on a 48-acre farm near Halstead where she has renovated a large chicken house into a studio where she does most of her sculpture. Vannatta reports that “for the past eight years, I have senior-audited the Advanced Sculpture class at WSU, which demands I produce and keeps me in the loop.”

Alan Gamble’s lecture, “Peace: More than an end to war,” is at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 2, in Krehbiel Auditorium of the Fine Arts Center. It is free and open to the public. The lecture is part of the annual Peace Lecture Series sponsored by the Kansas Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (KIPCOR) at Bethel College. Gamble’s appearance is co-sponsored by the Heartland Peace Tax Group.

The Peace Lecture Series, now in its 35th year, provides a forum to address issues of peace, justice and conflict resolution in the world and at home. The series has included Nobel laureates, scholars, performing artists, activists and visionaries. All lectures in the series are free and open to the public. The second event in the 2007-08 series will be a concert by folk musician John McCutcheon, Friday, Feb. 16, 2008, in Memorial Hall on the Bethel campus.

The Peace Lecture Series receives support from the J. Winfield Fretz Lecture Fund and the Peace with Justice Task Force, Kansas West Conference of the United Methodist Church, both of which support speakers and events on peace and justice. Other funding for the series comes from individual contributions to KIPCOR.

Bethel College is a four-year liberal arts college affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. Founded in 1887, it is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Bethel is known for its academic excellence and was the highest ranked Kansas college in the national liberal arts category of U.S. News & World Report’s listing of “America’s Best Colleges” for 2008. For more information, see the Bethel Web site at

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