Currently, the world struggles to make progress in nuclear nonproliferation, arms control, and disarmament because it operates under a dangerous single story: that nuclear weapons play a necessary and valuable role in securing global peace and stability. To leave this master narrative unquestioned dismisses a future in which nuclear weapons do not exist. It also becomes an act of erasure – it disenfranchises communities who have suffered from the health and environmental costs of nuclear weapons production. But as it stands, most people around the world are ill-equipped to understand the nuclear threat, let alone feel empowered to demand governments to take a stand against a renewed nuclear arms race or the prospect of nuclear war. During this lecture, Lovely Umayam will share her work as a U.S.-based nuclear policy analyst and artist to translate complex, inaccessible information about nuclear issues into vivid, empathic narratives that explore relationships among the human, the atom, and the bomb. Through her work, she strives to spark curiosity and engender a more meaningful understanding of what it means to navigate and survive in today’s nuclear world.
Lovely Umayam manages the nuclear security portfolio at the Stimson Center, a nonprofit, nonpartisan think-tank based in Washington, DC. At Stimson, she leads projects that bring governments, industry representatives, and civil society together to discuss how to better secure nuclear materials around the world. She also is the founder of Bombshelltoe, a creative hub linking artists, community organizers, and nuclear experts together to present nuclear policy in a compelling and impactful way to the greater public. Bombshelltoe was the first-prize winner of the US Department of State’s Innovation in Arms Control Challenge in 2013. Currently in development at Bombshelltoe is Ways of Knowing, a multimedia project in partnership with Navajo community members that showcases hope and resilience after decades of uranium mining in the US Southwest. Bombshelltoe recently completed the DC installation of The Color Curtain Project, an art book and culinary experience that examines the origins of the Non-Aligned Movement and the interplay between colonialism, racism, and nuclear weapons. Lovely’s policy research and creative work have been featured in Fast Company, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, The Atlantic, Vice, The New Republic, SXSW, MoMA PS1, PopTech and Newseum, among others.