The Bombshelltoe Policy x Arts Collective is a creative organization pushing for an active exploration of arts, culture, and history to promote nuclear nonproliferation, arms control and disarmament for the next generation.

We bring nuclear policy experts and artists together to present nuclear-related topics through insightful and beautiful modes of art and narrative. By combining nuclear expertise and artistic expression, Bombshelltoe highlights the humanity in nuclear policy to resonate with people who currently feel disengaged.

 

Bombshelltoe is a non-profit fiscally sponsored by the Fulcrum Arts EMERGE Program (Pasadena, CA, USA)

Photography and animation credit: Adriel Luis (2016)
Illustration credit: June Mirage (2018) by Lovely Umayam, modified for website

Founder & Creative Producer: Lovely Umayam

I am interested in the ways in which nuclear policy research and activism can overlap with the act of being creative.  

The word ‘nuclear’ unleashes predictable, deeply conditioned visions and reactions, most commonly the frightening image of the mushroom cloud, which has now become the universal symbol of atomic destruction. I started Bombshelltoe to offer alternative images and stories that can help expand the emotional reaction to nuclear issues, with the goal of shifting citizen response from fear to inspiration, curiosity, resilience and creation.

Einstein Forum: Escaping Nuclear "Flatland"

For too long, nuclear issues have been reserved for a specific and limited field of expertise, rather than what they truly are: critical to *everyone's* lived experience. 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.

Interested in following and supporting Bombshelltoe? Want to think differently about nuclear policy?
Receive updates about projects and get in touch to discuss opportunities to collaborate! All are welcome!

Current & Upcoming Projects

Ways of Knowing: A Navajo Nuclear Histories Project

Life cycle:
2017 – Current

Medium:
VR Film, Photography, Essays, Workshops
Original research and cartography coming soon
VR film for wide release 2021

Collaborators:
Lovely Umayam, Adriel Luis, Sunny Dooley, Kayla Briët, Carmille Garcia

From the late 1940s through the 1960s, the United States government mined uranium in large swaths of land belonging to indigenous communities, including Navajo people. Uranium mining during this time contributed to nuclear weapons production and research, but this piece of history is often overlooked and forgotten. Partnering with nuclear experts, artists, and Navajo community members, Ways of Knowing explores the environmental and cultural dimensions of this moment in time, and how this nuclear legacy continue to impact people and land today. The Navajo Nation Screenings of "Ways of Knowing" were featured in the Associated Press Newswire. 

VISIT WEBSITE READ DUE DILIGENCE DISPATCH

Illuminating Radioactivity: Elevating Our Understanding of Radiation

Life cycle:
2019 – Current

Medium:
Website, Educator resources

Collaborators:
Lovely Umayam, Karen Hogue, Jennifer Wagner, Tammy Nguyen, Kristyn Karl & Alex Wellerstein (Reinventing Civil Defense), Adriel Luis, Tubik Studios. In partnership with the Stimson Center

The advent of nuclear weapons fundamentally changed our emotional relationship with the term “radiation” irrespective of whether it is naturally-occurring or man- made, dangerous or benign. While nuclear anxieties made it easier to educate the public about radiation protection during the Civil Defense era, fear flattened “radiation” into an abstraction, extinguishing the potential for genuine education – one that evoked a sense of curiosity, wonder, and responsibility. Illuminating Radioactivity offers a fresh approach to nuclear education: history and science literacy through narrative and visual arts. This project invites readers to see the invisible, and unpack our fears. Illuminating Radioactivity was featured as "Site of the Day" by AWWWARDS.

VISIT WEBSITE TUBIK CASE STUDYREAD DESIGN DISPATCH

Atomic Sublime: An Art book about the Atom, the Sublime, and the American Southwest

Life cycle:
2019 - Current

Medium:
Art book, Bookmaking lectures / workshops (Tammy Nguyen)

Collaborators:
Lovely Umayam, Tammy Nguyen (Passenger Pigeon Press), Karen Hogue, Jennifer Wagner, Adriel Luis

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. The book is part of the Illuminating Radioactivity project, which blends policy, with technical and creative expertise to produce compelling resources about nuclear science, policy, and history. "Atomic Sublime" was featured at the MoMA-PS1 Printed Matter New York Art Book Fair, MoMA Magazine, MoMA Wendy's Subway temporary Reading Room exhibition, and can also be found in various special collection libraries around the world.

PURCHASE BOOK READ DESIGN DISPATCH

B(L)OOM: The Flora and Fauna of Nuclear Conflict

Life cycle:
2021

Medium:
Art book, Original research, Educator resources

Collaborators:
Lovely Umayam, Tammy Nguyen

Most educational materials on nuclear weapons explain history and politics through a linear progression driven by images of conflict and fear. As an alternative, B(L)OOM presents an archive of images and historical narratives about nuclear destruction and regeneration using flora associated with atomic history as the central, unifying theme. It hopes to teach the lesson of resilience: how people rise and rebuild themselves and their communities during and after conflict and catastrophe. 

Coming Soon - Inquire for Additional Information

Past Projects

The Color Curtain Project (2018)

The Color Curtain Project (2018)

September 12, 2020

An experimental dinner exhibition about the Bandung Conference of 1955 through an Asian- and African-American lens, in an attempt to unpack racism, colonialism, and nuclear war. This event uses Richard Wright’s travelogue, “The Color Curtain” as a central point of reference to examine conflicting and at times contradictory feelings about belonging and displacement. Held 2018 in Washington, DC at the Eaton Hotel, the Color Curtain Project is co-created with Aerica Shimizu-Banks, Adriel Luis, Foreign National, Combing Cotton Co., and Passenger Pigeon Press. Featured on the Brooklyn Rail.

Fields of Fungus & Mushrooms (2018)

Fields of Fungus & Mushrooms (2018)

September 12, 2020

What grows after radioactive contamination? Is it possible or is it futile? It depends on so many factors, which explains why Hiroshima and Nagasaki are currently habitable after being hit by nuclear bombs in 1945, while Chernobyl continues to be too dangerous for its citizens to return after its fateful accident in 1986. This art book includes essay and poetry about the variables that allow for regeneration, and a gigantic sunflower spread. Created for Passenger Pigeon Press: Martha’s Quarterly. All sold out.

Events & Workshops

Meet and learn with Bombshelltoe Collective members about how art and culture enriches and inform nuclear policy. Events are free (unless otherwise noted) and will be held virtually in 2020.

Click the following to watch past events or RSVP to upcoming ones.

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[RSVP NOW]
OCTOBER 22, 2020:
ATOMIC TERRAIN
Web event | 9 AM PT / 12PM ET USA
Artist exploration of nuclear weapons history through landscapes and plant life.
ft. Tammy Nguyen and Gabriella Hirst

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AUGUST 13, 2020: ILLUMINATING RADIOACTIVITY
Event recorded (see above)
Conversation about the different meanings + interpretations of "radiation" in pop-culture, health, and policy.
ft. Alex Wellerstein, Kristyn Karl, Karen Hogue, Jennifer Wagner, Yana Potapovych, Les the DJ

BOMBSHELLTOE & LOVELY ON THE MEDIA:

Partnerships & Features

Learn about Bombshelltoe's work with various organizations and institutions.

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

WATCH HERE

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.

LISTEN HERE

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.

LISTEN HERE

New York and Los Angeles Art Book Fairs

Printed Matter

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.

READ HERE

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.

WATCH HERE

Centering Traditional Ecological Knowledge

Diné College

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!

Talks & Presentations

Watch Bombshelltoe founder Lovely Umayam share her insights as a nuclear policy expert and creative producer.

PopTech

Reshaping Nuclear Narratives

ICAN Paris Forum

Art Influences Community, Culture, and Policy

IAEA Nuclear Security Talks

Re-imagining Science Literacy for Nuclear Security

Note: Thumbnail clicks to IAEA website, Lovely's presentation begins at 1:23

SAMA SAMA / The Sustainable Culture Lab

Ethnocide, Eǔtopia, and Nuclear Weapons

Nuclear RXNS: Select Writings


Essays on the precarious and wondrous connection among human, atom, and the bomb.

Bombshelltoe on Instagram

Follow Bombshelltoe’s culture picks — visual art, music, writing — and the surprising ways they relate to nuclear policy issues.