An Artistic Take: The Other Impacts of the Atomic Bomb

Just finishing a U.S. History unit dealing with World War II, students in Meg King’s class got to hear another side of the atomic bomb story from one of Bosque’s resident-artists, Al Na’ir Lara. Ms. King said much of the reading her class did on the atomic bomb focused on its impact overseas. She was interested in engaging the students in a look at the impacts of its creation and testing given its genesis in New Mexico.

Mr. Lara’s 2018 work “Holy Trinity (Site),” was displayed at the National Hispanic Cultural Center for about a year and is a personal statement, influenced by Rudolfo Anaya’s Bless Me, Ultima. In his book, the native New Mexican author speaks of the way the bomb’s test changed New Mexico’s weather, wind, and people.

“I think about the way the bomb was dropped haphazardly in the desert between the hills by scientists who were not from this land,” Mr. Lara said in his artist statement. “I think about the terror described by some witnesses in documents I’ve poured over; they were not alerted to the test...New Mexico, my beloved land, was and remains seen by outsiders as a place where life is less valuable—the residents, the animals, the plants, the living desert topography.”

Mr. Lara was clear in his presentation that the painting is an expression of his own opinions, but encouraged students to think for themselves about the impacts the testing of the atomic bomb had, and continues to have, on New Mexico, which he called a “sacrificial zone.” He engaged in thoughtful dialogue with students about his artistic process, the symbolism in the painting, and his inspiration.

“It’s a really heavy piece,” he told them. “It’s meant for conversation.”