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, Tarin Erickson:
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.