Tug of War
Artist: Paul Keefe
Veteran: John A. F., US Coast Guard
This print is dedicated to United States Coast Guard Veteran John F.. “Tug of War” references Fowler’s mixed feelings while enforcing the borders between Florida and Cuba/Haiti. Sympathy for impoverished illegal immigrants and commitment to country are at odds.
Odysseus and the Toolbox
Artist: Yvette M. Pino
Veteran: Ian M., US Marine Corps
I asked Ian if he had ever experienced rough seas or storms while on his deployments. He shared this story with me, “We were out in the middle of the Mediterranean and there was lightening striking all around us and someone had left a metal toolbox chained to the flight deck, which was also metal. No one wanted to get it. So I went and got it. I just remember running down the flight deck and it was pouring down with lightening and I was like, this is what I signed up for! This is the adventure I wanted! And we were in the Mediterranean and I am a big history guy, so I thought, “If Odysseus was here, he would get this tool box too!”
Esprit de CorpsArtist: Justin Camilli
Veteran: Will C., UnitedStates Marine Corps
When talking to Will about his experiences, he was very adamant about the importance of brotherhood. This idea really struck and drove the meaning of the piece. The two faces represent brothers guarding each other from harm. The faces are made up of many tiny soldiers that appear almost unrecognizable. Each soldier, alone, seems insignificant but together they make something much greater.
Artist: Austin Searock
Veteran: Phillip J., US Marine Corps
The first time I met Phillip and learned that he had served two tours of Iraq, I had to ask him about camel spiders. So much has been said about the spider, I needed to hear a first-hand account. Making it clear that camel spiders were in fact real and disgusting creatures, he did recall a few things about them. The stories that I found most interesting were the stories about soldiers collecting camel spiders and scorpions in empty ammo cans. They would place them in a mini arena to watch them fight. The two have similar lifestyles: both burrow under rocks and in holes, they have the same prey and are typically nocturnal—so it’s obvious the two don’t get along.
“Who would win?” I asked him.
“The scorpions, of course. Also, did you know that scorpions sting themselves to death when they are on fire?”
Artist: Maxwell Ayars
Veteran: Ben H., US Army Colorado National Guard
Even though a lot of what Ben had experienced in Iraq and Afghanistan was classified material, it became evident Ben’s experiences required a similar spontaneity and intensity found in his actions and character. We spoke a lot about the struggle to recreate oneself in new environments, whether that is the abrasive surroundings of Iraq or the large obstacles found in a class room at Colorado State University, the difficulty in maintaining ones identity became the focus of this piece. My intention was to depict a fierce gaze that was both here and there. The quick gestural wash applied to the surface represents the brave and unbridled attitude that Ben seemed to maintain throughout and the headstrong nature required to tackle enormous obstacles head on.
Artist: Duffy M. Norris
Veteran: Shaun C., US Army & US Air Force
With my print, I wanted to recognize Shaun’s sacrifice and genuine commitment to the safety of our country and I wanted to give him the “thank you” that is long overdue. The consequence of his high-level clearance is that he cannot be recognized for his service. The quote at the top is modified from a memorial inside the National Security Agency that Shaun sent me photos of. He said when he saw it, he thought, “Ah, someone gets it.” The original quote is “they served in silence.” I left most of the plate blank and stark because Shaun has had to whitewash most of his military career and speak of it in vague terms and generalities, and at this point he has put a lot of those memories in a box on the shelf, so to speak. I also wanted to depict him as a father because his pride in, and love for, his daughter was palpable when he spoke about her and being her father. On Thursday, April 19th, 1990 Shaun died while serving his country. After being dead for 5 minutes, a combat medic revived Shaun, and Shaun immediately returned to completing his important classified intelligence mission on that day without regard for his own health or safety. Because of the nature of the mission, which was classified TS/SCI, Shaun was never officially recognized for this contribution, due to requirements of additional detail that cannot be provided in an unclassified format.
Artist: Scott Lenaway
Veteran: Tom P., US Army
This print was inspired by the experiences of Tom’s deployment to Iraq. When I spoke with him, the ideas of disconnect and connection kept coming up. The connection that soldiers feel is a brotherhood while deployed, something Tom has said he will never feel again. The center panel of the print deals with that feeling of brotherhood, something friends and family back home will never completely understand. The connection to family members back home is the idea of the panel with the woman and child. Both of these panels have a shared element of the yellow in the background; this is to express the idea of connection with family. The final panel deals with the disconnection Tom felt when he came back to Chicago, Illinois after his deployment. Additionally, he expressed to me that he felt people did not care about his wartime experiences when he got back from the war.
Artist: Jordan Oso
Veteran: Clay W., US Navy
This piece of art is not about what you need in war, but the things that will protect you from the danger of war. Clay, as part of the Hospital Corpsman, was issued and carried a 9mm Beretta (sidearm/pistol) as his only line of protection. He lived by the motto “we take care of the ones that take care of you.” Every day he saw death and those in need of medical help. It was his job to help those taking care of him. The hospital was located in old Babylon, where to escape the desert heat one would have to find a palm tree or stay in one of the hospital tents. Sometimes he and a few others would be sent out and other days he was to help at the base as helicopters came in and out with wounded soldiers. The most important thing is that he thought of his company as a team and that it was not just a one-person job. This piece is about the simple things that can keep one alive in the danger of war.
Artist: Tyler S. Green
Veteran: Andrew C., US Navy
Andrew told of a time on the USS Theodore Roosevelt when higher-ups thought it a good idea to integrate the troops of different nationalities. Our fine servicemen, being the most kind and exemplary of individuals, were ready to receive these guests as one might receive a stray cat. As these foreign souls boarded, however, our sailors’ hands absentmindedly stroked smooth cheeks, for on the Frenchmen’s faces hung great swaths of fur. Surely such eccentric, wine-loving people are far below America’s level of toughness, yet here they were adorned with sideburns of such girth they might be considered beards in some circles.
Artist: Farrell Tompkins Preston
Veteran: Paul H., US Marine Corps
Paul recounted stories of his tour of duty in Fallujah, Iraq. I was struck by the heavy weight of his experience as Marine squad leader. Through his work as a machine gunner and ground operations specialist, Paul developed a sense of duty toward two very specific goals: The well being of the individuals around him and the accomplishment of the mission at large. The images of manual carrying procedures are meant to stand as a metaphor for Paul’s sense of lifting up his fellow Marines, as well as the burden of the decisions he has made, which define him for better or worse. This print also grew out of my personal impulse to honor Paul’s service to a country that we share.