Scenes of service
WHAT: Veterans Stories
WHEN: 2pm-4pm Thurs., Nov. 7
WHERE: Lynden Library, 216 4th St.
WHAT: “Veteran” Opening Reception
WHEN: 3pm-5pm Sat., Nov. 9
WHERE: Studio UFO, 301 W. Holly St.
Wednesday, October 30, 2019
While the works in a new Studio UFO painting group exhibit all focus on different aspects of what it means to serve in the United States military, those who peruse the pieces in “Veteran” will find more than a few similarities.
That’s not a mistake. The challenge Studio UFO owner Trish Harding presented to her fellow artists was multifaceted. She gave them the prompt of “veteran” and told them that not only did the painting need to be inspired by that word, but it also needed to contain the color red somewhere, and have both personal and universal aspects to it.
The results were thought-provoking and eye-catching, focusing on everything from a haunting image of family members gathered around a gravestone while an American flag flutters above them in the breeze; to a number of World War II-inspired pieces; renderings of servicemen connecting with animals; and symbolic works utilizing the familiar red, white and blue.
Harding’s own painting, “The Unextinguishable Flame,” presents as a story. Its focal point is an infant with a rifle—a future veteran—who she says has been indoctrinated since childhood that war and violence is the answer.
“It was inspired by the invasion of Baghdad and, depending on which side of a conflict you are on, who holds the weapons, and where the battles are fought,” she says. “Remember, it was an unprovoked invasion to depose a tyrant in an independent country based solely on lies. It is about never-ending war.”
One of the things Harding hopes people will come away with after viewing the exhibit as a whole is the ability to question their own suppositions about the need for war, and whose interests the men and women who fight for this country are serving.
“More recently, at no fault nor control of their own, our service people are asked not to fight for our freedoms and security so much as fight for corporate interests around the world,” Harding says when talking about what she deems “military justice.”
Questions Harding imagines might arise from viewing “Veterans” are far-ranging and cover topics like veterans who advocate for peace, gender equality in the military, what actually happens when young people are made into warriors, how to help repair mental and physical damage from combat, and if war is truly working. Basically, she says, it boils down to “are we being told the truth?”
At an opening reception taking place Sat, Nov. 9—the weekend before Veterans Day—Harding hopes a number of vets will be in attendance as special guests, and that people will engage them in dialogue about their service.
Those interested in hearing from seasoned servicemen and women will also want to attend a Thurs., Nov. 7 event at the Lynden Library. There, a panel of veterans from World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, the Gulf War, and the Iraq War will share their stories and experiences, with time for questions.
“It would be a shame to not take the opportunity to hear what they have to say in person,” Harding says. “It would also be enlightening to hear how each story changes through the years and different conflicts to understand that evolution. I think that you will hear quite diverse stories from each with respect to how they were seen after, say, World War II and Vietnam and now Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria. I think that it all boils down to the aforementioned ‘military justice.’”
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