When Artists Work With the Wounded

In the tradition of Goya and other artists that depict scenes of war, The Joe Bonham Project is dedicated to illustrating the realities of wounded soldiers.  A recent  article in the NY Times goes into detail on the many benefits of the project, one of which is that the art world is being educated on the realities of war. As one artist states “even if I don’t believe in the war or why we’re there,” he said, “I still want to know about these people who are going to war.” The work is also being viewed in galleries, exposing the reality of the wounded to art patrons and gallery owners who might shy away from stories of war.

On the flipside, the soldier is seen and heard. A few meaningful quotes from the article:

“Drawing makes people really feel seen, on an emotional plane”

“A photograph shows you what you see when you look at your reflection…you get somebody to draw you, and it’s how they see you.”

“The illustrators aren’t showing them as monstrosities. They’re showing them as people — different from the rest of society, but it’s still a body and there’s still a person there.”

“It’s important for people to really see what we go through…I have scars all over my body. I have a colostomy bag. I have one leg, and it’s only about 10 inches. This is what happens when you send young men off to war.”

The one on one communication between the artist and the soldier reminds me of my experience attending the Veteran Civilian Dialogue, hosted by Intersections International. Equal number of soldiers and civilians and soldiers sit in a room together and talk and listen to one another. Soldiers have an opportunity to be heard by a caring stranger in a way that makes it feel like the world is hearing them. You can attend the next Veterans Civilian Dialogue in NYC on Friday June 8th.

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