Eyes Wide Open, the American Friends Service Committee’s widely-acclaimed exhibition on the human cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, features a pair of empty boots honoring each U.S. military casualty.
The exhibit started in January 2004 when the US casualties in Iraq numbered 500 as a local project in Chicago. In March, 2005 Peaceful Tomorrows’ Kelly Campbell, Barry Amundson, Nabil Ashour, Derrill Bodley and Yes Duffy expanded the AFSC’s “Eyes Wide Open” exhibit in San Francisco by increasing the total number of civilian shoes represented from 1,200 to more than 4,200. Visitors walked a “labyrinth” of shoes while considering the civilian casualties of the Iraq war.
As the casualties grew so did the exhibit and it toured the country extensively until May 2007, when the casualties in Iraq numbered 3500 and it was determined to split the exhibit up into smaller state-based exhibits. Eyes Wide Open has been seen by millions of people across the country and has involved thousands of volunteers. Eyes Wide Open continues to tell the story of the human cost of war in 46 states with boots representing US deaths in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and shoes representing Iraqi and Afghan civilians.