Doug Waterfield
UNK Department of Art and Art History chair and associate professor, 308.865.8352 or

The Atomic Pop exhibit at the National Nuclear Science Museum in Albuquerque, N.M., will feature 11 paintings by a University of Nebraska at Kearney artist.

The exhibit, which opens June 4, will include acrylic and oil paintings by Doug Waterfield, UNK Department of Art and Art History chair and an associate professor. The show will be up through December. Waterfield, whose work has been shown nationally for the past 25 years, is also currently on exhibit as part of the “Building Atomic Vegas” show at the Atomic Testing Museum in Las Vegas. The Las Vegas exhibit will be up through Jan. 5.

According to Waterfield, the paintings featured in both shows were inspired by the circumstances surrounding the atomic testing in the 1950s and 1960s.

“I first became interested in atomic testing while watching some documentaries on the Trinity test and the Nevada Test Site,” Waterfield said. “I was particularly interested in the ‘survival towns’ built by the Department of Energy. These were recreations of what was considered to be the quintessential American town, populated by mannequins, and then lit up by atomic blasts to see what the effects would be.” Waterfield recently visited the Nevada Test site, which is just north of Las Vegas, and found inspiration for his series.

“Gigantic craters, rusty detonation equipment and even a few of the original houses used in the Apple II test from 1953 were all the subject of sketches produced during the expedition,” Waterfield said. Photography of the site was not allowed.

“I couldn’t get that idea out of my head,” he said. “There was so much potential symbolism there. The projected identities of the mannequins, the psychological effects of seeing human analogs destroyed by atomic blasts, all of it captivated me. It was also a slice of society that has passed us by. Many people are not aware of some of the more bizarre details of what actually occurred during the tests. That’s one of the driving forces behind my work, educating the public.

“I don’t want to take a political view on the morality of atomic testing, people already know what they think about that,” he concluded. “I want to take this little known aspect of our history as a world power and shed a little light on it.”

For more information, or to view Waterfield’s work, visit: