ASTANA – Astana Arbat, in partnership with the United States Mission to Kazakhstan, hosted special events on Aug. 29 to mark the International Day Against Nuclear Tests and the closure of the Semipalatinsk Test Site.
The celebration began with the crafting of origami cranes, an international symbol of peace and unity inspired by Sadako Sasaki, a young survivor of the Hiroshima nuclear blast.
“We fold paper cranes as a symbol of international peace and healing, bridging the societies of Japan, the U.S., and Kazakhstan—all of which have been directly impacted by nuclear weapons. We aim to continue Sasaki’s mission of promoting global peace and extend a message of healing to all nations,” said Angel Rafael “Ralph” Vázquez-Concepción, a visual artist and independent curator, in an interview with The Astana Times.
Vázquez-Concepción, a San Francisco native, visited Kazakhstan as part of the U.S. State Department’s Art in Embassies program.
“The Art in Embassies program is an exchange initiative between the U.S. and its partner nations, enabling artists to display their artwork at embassies. The current exhibition delves into the historical context of U.S.-Kazakhstan relations concerning nuclear testing and the intricate dynamics of the Cold War,” Vázquez-Concepción added.
One of his key motivations for participating in the program was to broaden the discussion surrounding nuclear tests and weapons, especially during times of escalating international tensions.