By combining nuclear expertise and artistic expression, Bombshelltoe highlights the humanity in nuclear policy to resonate with people who currently feel disengaged.
We bring nuclear policy experts and artists together to present nuclear-related topics through insightful and beautiful modes of art and narrative. The Bombshelltoe Policy x Arts Collective explores how nuclear nonproliferation, arms control, and disarmament policies are connected to today's most pressing local and global issues.
Bombshelltoe Founder: Lovely Umayam
Reshaping Atomic Narratives
I am interested in the ways in which nuclear policy and activism can overlap with the act of being creative.
The word ‘nuclear’ tends to unleash predictable, deeply conditioned visions and reactions – most commonly the image of the mushroom cloud – the universal symbol of catastrophic destruction. I spoke at Poptech to introduce unfamiliar or forgotten images of the nuclear dilemma with a goal of shifting the dialogue from fear to one of inspiration, curiosity, resilience and creation.
Art Influences Community, Culture, and Policy
I believe that nuclear issues do not belong to traditional scholars and policymakers alone.
Meaningful cultural and policy shifts happen because of the persistence and resilience of activists, artists, and everyday people wanting to see a different, better world. I had the chance to spend time with amazing individuals at the ICAN Paris Forum to share insights about how we can — in collaboration and community — join forces and share our skills to challenge the status quo and demand a nuclear weapons-free future.
Escaping Nuclear Flatland
I am dedicated to revealing how we are all part of the nuclear experience.
For too long, nuclear issues have been reserved for a specific and limited field of expertise, rather than what they truly are – critical to our shared experiences. I had the honor of speaking at the Einstein Forum in Potsdam, Germany to share examples of how my artistic and community practice has deepened how I perceive the relationship between people and the bomb.
WAYS OF KNOWING
A Navajo Nuclear Histories Project
Bombshelltoe is exploring how Navajo storytelling has been passed through generations for empowerment and survival. These stories help communities overcome the mental and physical trauma of living near uranium mines, many of which are still left abandoned and contaminated. Ways of Knowing seeks to revive these forgotten and silenced narratives, framing “nuclear” as a deeply personal experience that intersects with social justice today.
2020 public screenings announced soon.
A collaboration with storyteller Sunny Dooley, curator Adriel Luis, filmmaker Kayla Briët, photographer Carmille Garcia, and Navajo community members. Created with generous support from Nsquare, Ploughshares Fund, Google, Outrider Foundation, and Prospect Hill Foundation.
Seeing the Invisible, Unpacking Our Fears
Illuminating Radioactivity is a virtual tour of the genesis and impact of the word “radiation.” It offers a fresh approach to nuclear education: history and science literacy through narrative and visual arts.
Illuminating Radioactivity was featured as "Site of the Day" by AWWWARDS.
Design by Tubik Studio. Written by Lovely Umayam. Technical Advice by Karen Hogue and Jennifer Wagner. Creative Advice by Adriel Luis. Partnered with the Stimson Center.
The Atom, the Sublime, and the American Southwest
Atomic Sublime is an artist book about the landscapes that captivate and haunt us, not only because of their ineffable beauty and scale, but because of the dark nuclear histories they hold. The book centers around two places in the American Southwest—the Grand Canyon and the Nevada Test Site—and the role they played in developing US nuclear weapons. Limited edition of 250.
Published by Passenger Pigeon Press. Essays by Lovely Umayam. Art by Tammy Nguyen. Technical Advice by Karen Hogue and Jennifer Wagner. Creative Advice by Adriel Luis.
THE COLOR CURTAIN PROJECT
A reflection on nuclear disarmament and the meaning of Afro-Asian solidarity
In April 1955, twenty-nine Asian and African countries gathered in Bandung, Indonesia to take stock of the geopolitical dynamics at the time, and to forge a new coalition denouncing racism, colonialism, and nuclear war. Over sixty years later, the Bandung Conference remains an overlooked historical artifact, but its themes, achievements, and shortcomings still reverberate today. To honor and reflect on the intricate connections between past and present, Bombshelltoe along with NY- and DC-based scholars and artists began The Color Curtain Project, a series of dinner parties and art book presentations that convene individuals of African- and Asian-American identities for constructive dialogue.
A collaboration with Foreign National, Combing Cotton Co., Google, and Eaton Workshop
FIELDS OF FUNGUS & SUNFLOWERS
How will something begin to grow after nuclear war?
A journey into how humans, plants, and animals survive after a nuclear accident or war. In some cases, it is possible to pick up the pieces and rebuild. In others, homes are contaminated, families are displaced, and wildlife mutate and adapt over generations. At the heart of the book is a poem written by Adriel Luis about the resilient properties of mushrooms to grow despite destruction, and their uncanny abilities to absorb radiation.
Note: Fields of Fungus and Sunflowers was created as a limited run and is now sold out.
A collaboration with Passenger Pigeon Press.
Features & Partnerships
Bombshelltoe collaborates with various institutions to present creative entry-points for the public to participate in nuclear policy discourse.
This is How You Change the World
Panel @ ICAN Paris Forum
Bombshelltoe dismantles the meaning of “deterrence,” and shares how the power of the arts can amplify policy and advocacy at the ICAN Paris Forum held February 14-15, 2020
Taking Nukes to the Silver Screen
Suns Cinema Podcast
Lovely discussed the role of nukes in film with the hosts of this podcast dedicated to Suns Cinema, Washington D.C.'s only arthouse cinema.
Merging Creativity and Policy Analysis
N Square Innovator’s Fellowship
Bombshelltoe founder joins the 2018 - 2019 N Square Innovation Fellowship — a talented group of artists, scientists, technologists, and nuclear policy experts tasked to create multi-disciplinary projects to advance nuclear security.
In the Silo
Press the Button Podcast
In this interview on Ploughshares Fund's Press the Button podcast, Lovely talks about about the role of art and media in public engagement with nuclear issues.
New York and Los Angeles Art Book Fairs
Bombshelltoe projects in collaboration with Passenger Pigeon Press were featured in Printed Matter's New York Art Book Fairs in 2018 (with The Color Curtain Project) and 2019 (with Atomic Sublime), and Atomic Sublime is now part of Printed Matter's official catalog. It will also be featured in the 2020 LA Art Book Fair.
Nukes x Design
Rhode Island School of Design
Bombshelltoe has been collaborating with RISD's industrial design program to work with students to imagine new ways to make nuclear issues accessible. In 2019 Lovely contributed to Design, Culture & Global Security, edited by Tom Weiss and published by RISD and Nsquare.
Note: Lovely's chapter, "Culture as a Driver for Change" is on page 81
We Need to Talk...About the Bomb
Conversation @ the Einstein Forum
Lovely was invited to the Einstein Forum in Potsdam, Germany to speak on how art and aesthetics can deepen our understanding of how humans are affected by nuclear issues.
Centering Traditional Ecological Knowledge
In 2019 we had the distinct honor of partnering with Dr. Perry Charlie's Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) program to present community-feedback screenings for Ways of Knowing at all three Diné College campuses in Tsaile and Tuba City, Arizona, and Shiprock, New Mexico.
Showing Women’s Impact on Nuclear Issues
Foreign Policy Interrupted
With Foreign Policy Interrupted (FPI), Bombshelltoe founder Lovely explained the challenges of being a woman of color in the nuclear security field. Lovely is currently an FPI fellow!
Bombshelltoe on Instagram
Think beyond mushroom clouds -- a social media experiment to redefine what “nuclear” means by showcasing art, music, and other ephemera that contextualizes what it means to live in a nuclear world.
A collection of writings about culture and policy
Mr. Rogers, nuclear fear, and imagining a post COVID-19 world. Published on Inkstick.
A writer’s journey to stand up against the baddest of the bad: nukes
Going to the Fifth Dimension to escape our nuclear reality isn’t easy…