Veteran Print Project is an organization whose goal is two-fold: 1. Obtain and develop oral histories of a new generation of veterans 2. To connect local artists, specifically printmakers, with the veterans to create prints based on the oral histories. Through this process a dialogue is started between two very different groups of people. Initially focusing on student veterans and student art programs, Veteran Print Project seeks to challenge young communities to gain a broader understanding of the veteran experience, both while enlisted and after discharge. Veteran Print Project believes that artist have a unique capability of communicating history visually. It is the goal of Veteran Print Project to assist in the development of these “Pict-Oral” histories and to display the creative energies that result from the collaboration between two iconic groups- artist and veteran. Mission Statement Veteran Print Project seeks to bring two divergent groups, veterans and artists, together to express the historical experiences of a new generation of veterans through the traditional methods of fine art print, opening an ongoing dialogue between these two groups. History and Current Status

Yvette M. Pino paints a helipad in Tikrit, Iraq.

Veteran print Project started in 2009 shortly after founder Yvette M. Pino returned from Frogman’s Press, a two week long printmaking workshop in South Dakota. While at Frogman’s, Yvette would develop relationships with printmakers from around the world. Mostly educators and graduate students, the workshop was an opportunity to make strong art-world connections. As a recent Iraq war veteran, Yvette was developing her ideas on how to incorporate her military experiences with her artwork. It was evident after her experience at Frogman’s Workshop that Yvette would return to Madison, Wisconsin and create prints about her experiences in Iraq. A semester prior as an art student at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Yvette realized the strong disconnect she had with her fellow students. Most students didn’t respond well, if at all, to her constant stories of deployment. As frustration and isolation began to take hold, Yvette found herself involved with another inspirational group, UW Vets for Vets, a student run veteran organization. It was there that Yvette learned that she was not alone in her frustrations. She began to see the possibilities of how to address the needs of a new generation of veterans returning to school.  As a Sergeant in the Army, Yvette was trained to motivate and problem-solve. Though out of the military, she would turn to this skill set to begin her latest objective: Veteran Print Project. Sharing her ideas at the workshop that summer allowed Yvette to see the potential for this project’s success as well as interest to participate from the artists.

VPP Oral Historian, Matthew Sorensen, beside his print created by Tracy Honn. (Photo courtesy of Tracy Honn.)

With a solid idea in place, it was time for action. Already a Student-worker at the Wisconsin Veterans Museum, Yvette proposed the project to the Research Center Manager who was in charge of the Oral History Program. The Wisconsin Veterans Museum was trying to build its collection of oral histories and this would be an exciting way to get the youngest generation to tell their story in a respected and safe environment. Receiving the idea with enthusiasm, the Research Center Manager encouraged her to present it to the UW Vets for Vets group and see if they were interested. Yvette did that and found out that one of her fellow members of the group had just been hired at the museum to be an oral historian. It was a serendipitous moment. Matthew Sorensen, a US Marine Corps Veteran would soon be proposed with the Veteran Print Project as well. He agreed that it would be a good idea and began recruiting student veterans to give their oral histories. The project was promoted at the UW Vets for Vets meeting and participants were soon lined up. During this same period, Yvette was involved with a local group of printmakers that were trying to start a cooperative where they could have a shared space to make art. The Veteran Print Project was proposed to the group as a way to bring the new members of the Coop together as well as exposing their new organization to the community. Soon this proposal would be adopted and artists were signing up to participate. Over the course of the following months, veterans gave their oral histories and the artists were assigned one veteran each and listened to their story. Communication between artist and veteran was encouraged but not mandatory. The artists created an edition of 15 prints. The project was proposed to the Wisconsin Veterans Museum Curator of Exhibitions, Jeffrey Kollath, and he enthusiastically accepted. This acceptance entailed a museum exhibition of the prints in exchange for two archival copies of each print. The inaugural display of the prints was May 6, 2011 on Gallery Night in Madison, Wisconsin. Feel free to contact us by emailing yvette@veteranprintproject.com.

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