Born: Dearborn, Michigan, 1947 Served in Vietnam, U.S. Army 4th Battalion, 199th Light Infantry Brigade Northwest of Saigon Rifleman, 1969-70
From the Artist:
A photographic poem from Vietnam:
Note to God and Country Green on the outside and black within I stand smiling with a friend but my spirit is betrayed and cursing you is my only prayer.
From a series of letters, 1985-95:
For me, Vietnam illuminated, in exquisite relief, the dark side of being: all the hypocrisy and good intentions, failures and heroics, collaged in one horrific mindf***. My infantry experience was divided between the rice paddies and jungles roughly sixty miles northwest of Saigon. As a simple enlisted grunt, I was not privy to information about how our unit coordinated with the big picture of the war. As a matter of fact, I didn't give a damn where I was. Subjectively, I felt "They" were in control and my goal through the whole ordeal was to stay alive somehow. During the days we searched the terrain; during the nights we set up ambush. My dominating emotion, which ebbed and flowed but never diminished, was fear. I shared point position for six months, caught shrapnel in the legs, had dysentery and malaria. In the hospital at Cam Ranh Bay we had a sapper attack that wounded hundreds of bedridden patients. The point is: I never felt safe anywhere.
This overriding sense of fear was probably the dominating influence in the art that followed ten years later. Depression, anger, outrage, etc., came and went, but I can still trace the lines of fear. The drawings all came from the jungle experience and its attendant sense of impending disintegration. "The Bones" series of sculptures comes from the rice-paddy period of the tour. I recall the smell when I came upon rotting bodies in the fields—the skin and bones. I remember how the bones would project through the flesh: the strength of dead bones, their integrity, their clean dominance over life. Bodies fresh-killed in the rice paddies seemed somehow to support the geography—actually to hold the scene together physically. They were so serene and strangely formal; and very dead. I made these connections after the work was completed; while it was in progress, I could not read the sources.
I have been working as a registered nurse at a hospital. I nurse collapsed people and search for a balance of meaning that doesn't exist...just an average guy. Maybe I'm doing some payback on the misery scale?