Born: Chebanse, Illinois, 1951 Died: Chebanse, Illinois, 1997 Served in Vietnam, U.S. Army 571st Ordnance and Detachment Team 2 Attached to 101st Airborne Division, Camp Evans North of Hue, Phu Bai, and Da Nang Small Arms, Security, and Demolition Specialist Trained in chemical, biological, and radiological warfare 1971-72
From the Artist:
From notes and letters:
The figure I draw is the depersonalized soldier, the soldier within, who has suppressed the emotion of the community of war. To me it is impossible to see war as anything but an old habit of thinking, an old frame of mind, and an old male political maneuver. The physical act of war contains many ingredients: the personality of heroism, horror, a strange glamour, destruction, and desolation. I have internalized the experience of the physical act of war and transformed it into the metaphorical gestures of the human form. The living form becomes a brutalized icon.
These figures are the vehicle of my interpretation of the moments in Vietnam that deal with the remoteness, transcendence, and finality of life. They are silent screams, ritual destruction, intoxication, insanity, sorrow, and death. They are images of power, but also represent savage men. They are caught between the image of a soldier dehumanized by war and that of man trapped in a state of raw self-conflict.
My drawings show lacerated, visceral images of exposed veins and muscles; through this kind of imagery I intend to show my figures as actual men, not heroes—men whose own bodies explode from within. The seared skins express an unsuspected ferocity and frailty that is as self-wounding as it is defiant.
The figures require a space of their own. For most of my art career I've been interested in spontaneous human gestures. I have enhanced the definition of the figures with a violence of line and with acid color.
Life is never solved. It is good that the art in this collection is controversial. I see that it unfolds a mystery, a mystery of strange tongues, strange smells, names of villages that we can hardly pronounce, and ignorance of ethics. The art suffers the anguish, the stripped skins and minds of soldiers who no longer exist.
There is the real and there is the dream. You make art somewhere between the reality of being and the reality of becoming.