Back from the Front
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
Artist: Kendra Eckert
Veteran: Ross P.
Ross’s story began as he reached into a burning pile of trash and pulled out the phone number of a recruiter he had met. He enlisted in 2009 and after three months of boot camp he chose his job in the Marines by flipping a coin; heads: intelligence officer. He went into the MOS school as an intelligence analyst. His role as an intelligence officer required him to disseminate information, interpret imagery, take reports, and communicate ideas to designated officials. He spent two years stationed in Okinawa, Japan and the most important event took place in 2011 after the earthquake and tsunami hit the island. He was apart of operation Tomodachi (‘friendship’ in Japanese). In the aftermath of this disaster he assisted in providing essential logistical routes for the transportation of relief aid and took part in the cleanup efforts on the island of Oshima. He also spent time in Thailand for military exercises and subsequently spent three weeks in South Korea. During his stay in South Korea he visited Seoul, South Korea for three days. He recalled going to the top of the End Tower and saw the expanse of the city spread out as far as the eye can see. So many other things took place that also added to his experiences both in and out of the Marines, and he left having gained great insight and a very cultivated worldview. The print that I created used two images from events during his travels that had been vividly described to me during our conversation. The first is a photograph showing a scene from the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan during 2011. The second is also a photograph that shows a view from the End Tower in Seoul, South Korea. Both images were appropriated from the internet and chosen for their clarity and harmonious ‘connection’ when placed together. I wanted to create an image that could express the dynamic of witnessing the destruction of nature alongside the expanse of a thriving city. The two places collide: infrastructure and the absence of it. I included drawings of mine on the ends of the images that also seemed to show qualities rain and city lights. I chose to use a lightly colored Japanese paper called Kitikata that is delicate and slightly translucent. The quality of this paper helped to invoke the fragments of his experience that remain only as memory. The print was created using a photo-lithographic process, where the image is exposed and developed on a light sensitive aluminum plate and then printed using the lithographic printing technique.
PBFires AO Sangin
Artist: Mark Brueggeman
Veteran: Chase V., USMC
I met Lance Cpl. Chase L. Vuchetich at 10:15 February 11, 2015 for coffee at the Brewhaus in the university center. Over the course of our next three meetings, we talked about his recruitment, the loss of his Marine brothers, the painful separation from the Corps, the difficult transition to civilian life, and the companionship of Nicholas Shea O’Brien, lost to an IED in Sangin. I felt that I was talking to a man whose life was shaped by the disciplinary standards he sought within the Marines and a revelation of honesty in finding the brothers he would be free to love. The anxiety he inevitably faced during his deployment was made bearable by his brothers-in-arms who opened themselves and their lives to him and gave him an omnipresent family.
In developing an image in response to Chase’s recounting of experiences and revealing of himself, I took three directions. This image is only one of the three I produced for Chase. It reflects the complex interactions of experience, memory, and dream. He related a dream to me expressing fear about a situation with resulting aphasia and being lost in the space between languages and the passionate protection for the brothers he loved. This monochrome print, PBFires AO Sangin, is a layering: of English, phonetic spellings of Pashto, and Arabic scripted phrases. The layering reveals and conceals beneath languages the phrases: wadrega, STOP, cherta day Taliban, where is Taliban, Nishta, no one, and Sangin.
Artist: Tarin Erickson
Veteran: Scott W., WI NATIONAL GUARD
Scott is an E-4 Specialist in the Army National Guard. He is a Delta, meaning he programs the computers with the proper coordinates when firing the M119 (I call that a cannon, he called it a gun). Scott spoke about his experience in a very structured way, very much like any other career. The exception being that his older brother is also his Sergeant. In the two meetings I had with Scott, I felt as though I learned about him and his brother Mike equally. In most of his stories, whether they were about his time at Basic or AIT, Scott would tell me his own stories and then compare them to the experiences his brother had three years earlier.
Because I am an only child, I found the connection to his brother fascinating. It was as though his brother’s experiences shaped how Scott viewed his own journey. Using a photo of Scott and his brother, I digitally abstracted his brother’s face. This was used it as the structure behind the lithograph image of Scott’s eyes to represent the brotherly connection and influence so evident in Scott’s story.
Artist: Hannah Herkert
Veteran: Cody M., US ARMY
The Veteran Print Project was a learning experience. I had never had many chances to sit down with a veteran and discuss the things that they experienced. While Cody Makuski and I only talked briefly about his experiences, I felt I learned a lot about him as a person through the things he and I had the time to talk about. My impression of him was a very reticent person much like myself, but when he did talk he spoke of things with significant personal weight. While Cody was on tour in Afghanistan in 2011-2012, he worked to clear a route of potential explosives. The entire mission lasted over two weeks, with himself and five other soldiers all in a single MRAP vehicle slowly making progress. With my print I tried to convey a sense of what I could only imagine is a fraction of the anxiety and claustrophobia that he must have felt during this time. I combined this with the earlier ice-breaking story of when he first arrived at base before a well was dug for showers, deliberately choosing the colors to reflect an uncomfortably constant coating of sand and grit.
Family Embraces Family, Embraces Family…
Artist: Mark Brueggeman
Veteran: Leon V., US NAVY
I met Leon V., USN, at 11:30 May 14, 2015 in the Printmaking studio in the Noel Fine Arts Center. Over the course of our next three meetings, we talked about being in the Navy, being an Ojibwei, being commanded, being in command, being a student and all of the identities involved in moving from world to world. I felt that I was talking to a man who had watched his life move from sphere to sphere.
I developed Family Embraces Family Embraces Family . . . in response to Leon’s recounting of experiences and revealing of himself. This image started as a simple face-front portrait and then I began visualizing his nuclear family behind him, with his Native American family behind him, with his naval family behind him, with his university family behind him. I addressed his Native American heritage with the Thunderbird tattoo he had chosen to wear. His Navy career on both land and sea with an image of the Polynesian tattoo of a squid/octopus that he wears. These two tattoos are the upper left corner and lower right corner of the print and embracing the family Leon recognizes and the constant enlargement and adoption of additional members and worlds he acknowledges. The blue/black ink is a simple reference to the Navy camo in a picture of Leon that I saw.
The Few the Proud
Artist: Kris Hess
Veteran: Jeremy W., USMC
When I first met up with my veteran I was a bit nervous to find out what type of story he going to tell. I didn’t exactly want to illustrate a sad story because the way I work is the opposite. I work with many colors and make vibrant almost psychedelic prints with a multi-block system. Once we started getting into conversation my worries went away. After we introduced ourselves we didn’t really talk a whole lot about military experience but talked more about the fun things he liked to do. Whilst Jeremy was in the Marines stationed in San Diego he played hockey for the Marine team and competed against other teams in the state of California. I didn’t even know the Marines had a hockey team so I was pretty excited to start the print. We talked about a few stories about his experience playing hockey and we also talked about his best friend who influenced him to join the Marines who would later on become one of his best friends. At the end of our meeting I showed him some of my prints and even showed him how the process of printmaking works.
As for the print, I really didn’t want to focus on a story but wanted to create something like a memoir or token of remembrance of his experience of being in the Marines and playing hockey. There is no set story in the print but shows that whoever you are either a Marine or a hockey player it takes a lot of teamwork and brotherhood to come out on top whether it be on the battlefield or a hockey rink.
Chapter 1 x 1000
Artist: Adam Hintze
Veteran: Thomas M., US ARMY
Although I have not had the opportunity to meet Thomas, in the short time that I have been familiar with his story it has been apparent that he has an incredible amount of dedication to personal growth. While reading Thomas’ story, he spoke a number of times about the opportunities he sought during his deployment that most service members may not have. These included exploring other countries, other cultures, and most importantly the contents of paperback books found within his unit. Spending idle time enriching himself with these narratives, Thomas was able to focus his energy eventually completing the collection of 100 odd books available to him. Being someone that has a hard time focusing, I myself envy and commend him on that achievement, which led me to the print you see here.
Coincidentally, my year has been focused hugely on the weight of text narratives, and things that remain after stress and distractions are stripped away, leaving only the written word, and our relationship with it. Using a series of 35mm photographs I took at an antique bookstore in Madison, I digitally edited, stacked a number of positives, and printed this lithograph. Being an abstract image of bookshelves, I was attempting to show both the power of the books that remain, and their place in Thomas’ memory, which he compares to a “slide show of disordered fragments”.
Artist: Emily Kuchenbecker
Veteran: Andrew S., WI National Guard
When I met with Andrew, we talked about his experience in the Army. Andrew worked with the military police training. Through his experience, Andrew went to Basic Training. The thing I took most from his experiences was his excitement about school. He really made it seem like an honor to be able to wear his formal uniform when graduating college. Andrew has a few more years until graduation, but from what I gathered, he is very grateful for the army helping him get to college.
In my work, I like to abstract the real, and create something new. I use a lot of patterns and shapes, so I found the Army uniform design to be a source of inspiration. I wanted to incorporate the notion of graduation, so I chose to integrate graduation caps into the design. Inspiration and determination are two things that Andrew gained from his experiences in the Army. I can only imagine the experience being difficult and confusing, I know that Andrew persevered through the harder parts and made great friends while he was there.
Artist: Lanea Zagrzebski
Veteran: Trey H., US ARMY RESERVES
When I first met Trey, three things were apparent to me. The first, he was obsessed with checking the time and talking about the future. The second the respect and love he has for his family and his German heritage. He spoke of all the milestones he has had so far in his military career and how his family has been a tremendous support system. The third the eagerness he has to serve his country and the respect he has for all who have served and will be serving with him.
The cuckoo clock is the most prominent fixture of this print. It is a representation of his family and support system. The eagle is perched on top of the cuckoo clock as a protector and a symbol of his pride for his country and readiness to serve. The division of the print represents the shift in time amongst his service, family and schooling.
Specialist David M. & Sergeant E.
Artist: Jess Luer
Veteran: David M., US ARMY
David has been a part of two squads in the Army while stationed in Afghanistan. The first squad is the Geronimo airborne paratroopers where they took part in replenishing food and supply from the air in Chinook helicopters. The second squad is the bomb-tracking team where each soldier is paired with a dog based on its personality and always outranks his or her human companion. The furry, four-legged partners are most often German Shepherds, but David had the pleasure of being paired with Everett the black Labrador retriever.
What first grabbed my attention was Everett, because I had a Black Labrador growing up as a child and currently seeking for another to call my own. The image I have created was referred from several images David provided for me and chose him and Everett to be the centered subject. I chose the desert landscape from those images and created an abstracted feel to illustrate the gnarly terrain that David and Everett hiked along when not flying in the Chinooks overhead. I have also depicted other soldiers of the bomb-tracking squad and showed how the dogs were carried over treacherous grounds. The burnt umber ink on beige River Point paper I felt best depicted the colors of the Afghani desert and mountains. I couldn’t imagine the experiences to gain from being a soldier in the army or any other branch of service. However, this project gave me opportunity to get the knowledge straight from the source. David was very honored to be apart of this project and I too am glad to be the one paired with him for it. I thank him, Everett, and his brothers and sisters who serve and have served to protect our country and all that it stands for.
“Prisoners of War”
Artist: Brooke Newman
Veteran: Josh T., US ARMY
I learned a few things from my veteran. What occurs to me most about our conversations though is how many “sides” there are to being a vet: how many different types of jobs there are, how many places they are stationed around the world, and all the different reasons they have to join the armed services. Josh was stationed in Kuwait for a year on an Air Force base shared by many troops from all around the world. He said that he was amazed at how “ Westernized” the country was; there was a Hardees down the street from the base. He said, also, that it was the longest year of his life. I got the impression that he was very disenchanted with the whole experience. He joined because his uncle had—and because he wanted the benefits of the G.I. Bill. He did not know battle in his service time and is grateful for this. But felt that his being there was a waste of money. He was trained in communication and specifically on a switchboard that is now obsolete. He spent long shifts in a room, in the desert, with this switchboard. Needless to say he had too much time to think about the lives being lost in a country near by and about all the money being spent as well. He said that he does not regret his decision to join the Army but if given the chance, he would not do it again.
The print comes from his description of the creatures he caught on this base. Because of his boredom, he would sometimes catch and contain some of the “wildlife” around his building (wildlife not common in his home state of Wisconsin.) He would put these creatures into any container that he could find and observe them until the end of his shift. I related to this, as it seems like the type of thing that I would do. I oil paint animals mostly, so the idea of capturing an image of a lizard and a scorpion inspired me. He sent me a photo of a lizard that he had put inside of a water bottle. The water bottle had Arabic writing on it, which I thought would make a unique print, specific to his story. I carved two linoleum matrixes, one with the creatures and the other with the containers. I liked the idea of printing the creatures first and then laying the second matrix on top, similar, I felt, to trapping the creatures.
I named the print “Prisoners of War” because I felt that Josh had moments of feeling trapped in a situation that he didn’t like –and could not escape. The lizards, scorpions and other bugs experienced the same incarceration because of Josh’s post. (Please know that I mean no disrespect to the men and women who actually are/have been prisoners of war.)
Artist: Megan Pollack
Veteran: Sean C., USMC
During my meeting with Sean I learned a lot about the Marines. I had a very limited knowledge of the military and he was more than willing to “dumb it down” for me so that I understood. He told me stories ranging from his time in boot camp to nights out on the town during his time in Germany. Right after all of his training in the United States he was whisked away to Germany to fill a position with strict mental and physical requirements. He worked in an office in Böblingen where he performed many tasks, including making travel arrangements and plans for high-ranking Marines when they visited his base. This position allowed him the opportunity to meet many high-ranking Marines, an honor most Marines are not able to have. Looking back at my conversation with Sean the thing that still sticks out to me the most, other than his story about a night out drinking with some friends that resulted in punishment for many of his fellow Marines, is the pride and excitement he showed when he talked about his promotion to Sergeant. Sean moved up through the ranks much faster than your average Marine. It was this achievement that inspired my print.
I based my imagery off of a photo of Sean’s from the day he was officially promoted to Sergeant as well as the official document stating his promotion. Since I digitally illustrated Sean and manipulated the document in Photoshop I chose to use the Solarplate etching process to create my plates. Since I wanted to make a bold image I settled on black paper with white and gold ink to resemble the official colors of the Marines.
Artist: Taylor Quade
Veteran: Chris P.
There is no narrative for this print.
Artist: Lily Rawson
Veteran: Chris P., US NAVY
When speaking with my veteran, I was struck with the notion of constructs. A construct is defined as an idea or theory that is typically based on a subjective view as opposed to evidence. To me, this is what war is, a story with varying perspectives.
Chris served as a submariner. When we spoke, our conversation continually returned to how he and those around him typified his personae from having served in the military. Some viewed him as a hero, some as a monster, and others as a mere man. Listening to Chris discuss these varying personas housed in one body truly impacted me. This is what I chose to address in the print.
There are three translucent layers, each obscuring and interacting with the other layer. Yet, the three are still separate identities. The first layer is a mere man, the second a deconstruction or degradation of that man, and finally the idealized form – what man ought to be. They are displayed here as one unit. We are layers of persona and truth, careful constructs of what we, society, and reality have built.
Each of us, a construct.
The Troubles We Find
Artist: Tim Zeszutek
Veteran: Yvette P., US ARMY
I came into this project when there was only about two weeks left until the deadline. Another challenge that I had is that I have never actually met with Yvette in person; I only watched two interviews on YouTube of her for my inspiration. A couple of the stories that she told stuck in my mind throughout the whole of the interviews. Those were how much of a struggle it was to explain what it is like being back home from after being deployed, setting out the day after you believed you were going home, the image of a soldier losing his innocence painting his regiment on a cleared building and other stories. However, the story of how she became “cursed” is the story that I chose to interpret. Going through a tool shop that was cleared the day before she stepped over half eaten sandwiches and still burning cigarettes. She picked up some blueprints, supplies and a seemingly freshly sharpened drill bit set thinking that it will all be useful to her regiment. Looking at these supplies at night, she began to feel a heavy shadow over her. She felt cursed because she took these objects that in no right belonged to her. In fact, she described it as like Indiana Jones.
I decided to do a two-part plate Linoleum print because I knew I would be able to do it quickly. As I was thinking about it I thought that this must be a common occurrence with soldiers feeling they were not supposed to take this war trophy. So I wanted to do the back of the figure in that the viewer can put themselves in their shoes. The screws becoming part of the shadow is taken directly from Yvette’s story but it also shows the weight that a small object like those bits can have on a person. From a distance the colors seem to blend and leave an unease feeling that Yvette and I felt as I was listening to this story. Once the viewer understands the drill bits the title relates to them in how vague it is. The viewer can look back and think of events where they have taken, done, or perceived something as their own curse.
Artist: Amanda Shields
Veteran: Nathan E., USMC
Nathan is a 23 year old Veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. The majority of his service was spent in Quantico, VA. He also spent time in California and North Carolina. He worked as a disperser and as a MP or “Military Police” where he stood guard. Nathan thoroughly enjoyed his time in the Marine Corps. Being apart of the military gave his life the meaning and purpose for which he was searching. Knowing that he was apart of something bigger than himself allowed him to feel as though he was fostering fulfilling work.
In order to depict Nathan’s time in service, I decided to create a magical setting of the guard booth where he worked as a Military Police. He described some of the stories with his comrade in the guard station and he felt as though it was some of the best times of his life. I used whimsical clouds around a stylized guard station to embody the fun and fulfillment that he experienced while serving.
Artist: Emily Sikora
Veteran: Tyler P., USMC
The Veteran Print Project provided me with the opportunity to listen to veteranTyler’s story about his service in the Marines. I learned a little bit aboutwhat he experienced in Afghanistan, and how he had reoccurring nightmaresupon returning home from deployment. As Tyler was describing his nightmare,he said he felt completely alone with a lamppost shining light down on him toisolate him further. In the dream, his friends and family chanted how worthless andinsignificant he was. I could picture this nightmare in my own head quite vividly,and chose to represent my interpretation of Tyler’s dream in my print. Tyler was inthe 1st Battalion, 5th Marines (nicknamed Geronimo). Part of the battalion insigniaincludes an illustration of Geronimo. Tyler let me borrow his book designed bythe combat camera team that includes many snapshots and memories of whatthese Marines experienced during deployment. At the back of this book is an illustration of a skull with a headdress with the battalion’s motto, “Make Peace or Die.” As an artist and designer, my artistic style includes the repetition of shapes to create intricate patterns. After reflecting on what Tyler told me, I decided to usemultiple swirl shapes to represent the overwhelming, awful chants thatsurrounded him in the nightmare. I arranged them in a way so that the swirlsemerged from his head and spiraled all around the composition. Some of thespirals also spawn from a skull with a Native American headdress, similar to theillustration at the back of Tyler’s book, which I included in my print to reference the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines. The motto “Make Peace or Die” also makes anappearance within the headdress. I chose a gray scale color scheme because ofthe darkness that surrounded Tyler in the dream. I enjoy using hand lettering inmy work, and I hand lettered the hurtful words that emerge from the background.I decided to do a smaller print on a larger sheet of paper so that the image isisolated on the page, just as Tyler was isolated in his dream. This mixed-mediaedition employs various printing techniques – intaglio, digital, and also a layer ofcolored pencil illustration.
An Elusive Sentiment
Artist: Bethany Berres
Veteran: Ian W., USANG
During the time I spent talking with Ian, I found a constant sense of neutrality that seemed to be forced by the strict regiments and echoing commands. No matter what he had to do he always faced it with a steady calm attitude. The last three days of basic training was a sort of final training camping trip. The last fifteen miles was a hike with a forty-pound backpack along with all of their normal gear and clothing. They left at 2am and returned to the Fort at 8pm. During this hike they were instructed to crawl through a muddy expanse while someone shot live rounds above them. I was struck with the neutrality yet individuality that Ian held. I chose my imagery based on his story of running through the mud, representing the bullets with flying insect creatures and Ian with a mongoose. The paper I chose is a light and organic, expressing his individuality which is sewn to a thick white sheet, signifying the strict environment he was placed into.
Artist: Shawn Ganther
Veteran: Travis J., US ARMY
It’s interesting to be a veteran and be asked to tell another veterans story. There is the overlap of similar events and likeminded thinking. Listening to Travis, it was hard to not imagine the setting – the sounds, the heat melting you inside your uniform. Travis spoke about the highlight reel of his military service. He had once met VP Cheney. He worked with the 4th infantry division doing prisoner transport, and he once transported an “Ace Card.” However, it wasn’t the military stories that resonated with me. At the beginning of the interview, Travis said, “I know you want to hear a military story, but I kind of wanted to talk about hunting.” He smiled and sighed and then followed orders and proceeded to tell me about his time in the military. We talked for an hour and once he was done I asked, “So what was the story you really wanted to tell?” Travis had deployed numerous times. I could relate. When deployed, we are motived by a sense of duty – to work and protect our country and the others in our unit. Yet, part of us remains at home. Talk always leads to what you miss and what you’re going to do when you get back. Travis wanted to go hunting with his dad, and when he got back he did just that. He recalls the memory as one of the happiest he has ever had.
This piece is about the interweaving of military and civilian elements. The dark elements overlaying the white and transparent images represent thought and actions between deployments and time at home. When we are overseas home travels with us, but our military service also travels back home. No matter the outcome, our service will always be a part of us whether it is in the forefront of our thoughts or the back of our mind. I’d like to thank Travis for allowing me to tell his story.
Artist: Yvette M. Pino
Veteran: Hod C., US Army
Ft. Knox Life
Artist: Jake Szeligowski
Veteran: Aaron Z., US ARMY
Aaron is a veteran, a father, and a student at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. We met on a Friday morning over coffee to discuss his time in service, and for me to record his stories to be used for the Veteran Print Project. Aaron entered the military in 2003 immediately after graduating High School. My print focuses on Aaron’s time stationed at Fort Knox. In 2004 Aaron attended basic training at Fort Knox, after graduation continued his service stationed at Fort Knox. Soon after graduating basic training Aaron married, and in 2005 had his daughter, Riley. Aaron’s wife, at the time, was a jailer, a position higher ranking than Aaron’s own tanker position. During their marriage his wife was deployed three times to Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib. In entering the service Aaron never expected to both complete basic training and be stationed at Fort Knox. His wife’s deployment and young daughter allowed Aaron to work a 9-5pm job on the base. I wanted to incorporate Aaron’s story with my own artist style when approaching this project. This past semester I have developed a style of mono-print where I digitally print photographic images of portraits on top of ink color fields. Portraits have become an important feature in my work, as I find working with the human form allows me to convey or express narrative conventions. In this piece I have switched the conventions I have been working with, using a digital map in place of the color field, and linoleum cut print for the portrait aspect. The print conveys a figure intertwined with a topographic map of Fort Knox. The image represents the interconnectedness between Aaron and his service at Fort Knox. In understanding Aaron’s story Fort Knox becomes an equally important figure in the narrative as Aaron himself. Fort Knox is known for maximum security, as well as holding the United States’ wealth in gold and silver. This reflects the duality to Aaron’s containment at Fort Knox during the deration of his service.
Artist: Grace Balleg
Veteran: Nick K., USMC
I had no idea what to expect coming into this project. I can say that I did not expect to hear a story that had similarities to my own, and that is what happened. When I met with Nick, he talked extensively about his family and growing up in a household where joining the military was what every first-born son did. Naturally, I asked if he had always wanted to join, or if it was considered the right thing for him to do. That’s when he told me his experience on 9/11. Nick was ten years old, playing hooky, sitting on the couch watching cartoons. Suddenly, it switched to images of the twin towers falling. Shortly after this, he saw an army recruiting commercial that obviously did a good job because that solidified his desire to join the military. I chose to base this piece off of his experience that was similar to mine and I’m sure many others. Going about your every day, only to have the shock of 9/11 settle in. I too was watching a television program, only to have it switch to the news coverage of this travesty. Looking back, the strange contrast of children’s programming that we both had been watching to the horror of the news is something that many in our generation will always remember. “Greenwich Street” depicts the twin towers looming in the background with a television set showing what happened. I chose to show the plane in a cartoon style to contrast the darkness of 9/11 with the innocence of those that watched. The antennae on the top of the television are arranged as though it were 10 o’clock, referencing Nick’s age at the time. I chose to name this piece “Greenwich Street” because it was the street the twin towers were located on, and also references the childhood program loved by all, “Sesame Street.”