This past semester, my class of student veterans at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point joined forces with The Veteran Print Project and an advanced printmaking class at our university to produce fine art prints based on my students’ stories of military service, war, and coming home. I’ll be sharing pictures from the big reveal we had in May, as well as the artists’ statements and the work they produced.
I think I speak for everyone involved when I say that this was a tremendous opportunity for everyone to better connect, for my students to share their stories, and for the artists to create meaningful work on truly profound topics. Tolstoy said that the purpose of art was to provide a bridge of empathy between the artist and others. We took that concept one step further. By sharing their stories, my students connected with their artists, eliciting empathy and a better understanding. The artist then illustrated what they discovered for you, the viewer. The veteran then had the amazing opportunity to bear witness to their own stories and to see the ways in which their illustrated stories affected other viewers.
I hope that the work you see here will transform the way you think about war and veterans — I know it has for me.
Artist Statement, Lily Rawson:
When speaking with my veteran, I was struck with pair was 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.