Featuring the work of four combat veterans, brought together by a unique residency at the LH Project, in Joseph, Oregon, “Art Out of War” explores their stories told through the common material of clay, created during a month long residency in Eastern Oregon. Eutectic Gallery Co-Founder John-Fletcher Halyburton feels a special connection to the show, “My father was a pilot in Vietnam, shot down and captured, those stories and experiences are powerful, they helped shape my life. Being a part of sharing these 4 men’s stories is an honor.”
Through its residency program, The LH Project offers an intimate, private setting for artists to nourish their creative process surrounded by the beauty of the Wallowa Mountains. The opportunity for these artists, who are also veterans of military combat, to come together and explore their work in clay is unavailable anywhere else in the country. The work created here arises from deep exploration facilitated by the serene environment, the diverse facility and sense of community.
“It is important to hear directly from the participants (of military conflict), and the arts provide form where the experience and its result can be remade into something tangible,” said artist Jesse Albrecht, who served from 1996-2006 in the National Guard and was in Iraq from 2003-2004. “Something that allows the outsider – non-combatants – a chance to feel a sliver of our emotions their tax dollars paid for. It is vital to remove the spin from the combatants’ experiences.”
Jesse Albrecht graduated from the Univeristy of Wisconsin at Eau Claire with a BS in ceramics. After 1 1/2 years of graduate school at the University of Iowa he deployed to Iraq with the Iowa National Guard. He worked in and around Mosul as a combat medic attached to the 101st Airborne (AirAssault) Division. Upon return Jesse completed his MFA in ceramics and drawing in 2006. He worked as an assistant to Don Reitz, currently lives and works in Bozeman, Montana. He is an Elder in Paintallica and works with the Combat Paper Project when time and travel allows.
Ehren Tool, who served in the Marine Corps from 1989-94 in the Gulf War says of his work, “I just make cups…Written in stone on the Indiana War Memorial Building is ‘To vindicate the principles of peace and justice in the world.’ I would like my work to vindicate the principles of peace and justice in the world. That is a lot to ask of a cup.”
I just make cups.
I would like to steal my artist statement. Written in stone on the Indiana War Memorial Building is “To vindicate the principles of peace and justice in the world”. I would like my work to vindicate the principles of peace and justice in the world. That is a lot to ask of a cup.
After my experience in the Marine Corps, I am wary of the gap between the stated goal and the outcome. I am comfortable with the statement “I just make cups”. I’d like trust that my work will speak for itself, now and over the next five hundred thousand to one million years.
Peace is the only adequate war memorial. All other war memorials are failures at best and are usually lies that promote the fantasy of war as glorious. I have made many failures and maybe some lies.
When I returned from the 1991 Gulf War I was surprised to see a G.I. Joe version of myself, my gas mask and my war, in stores, “for ages 6 and up”. I am compelled to make work that talks about the strange places where military and civilian cultures collude and collide.
My intention when I make and share my work is to make and share MY work. I have made and given away more than 14,100 cups since 2001. I believe the cup is the appropriate scale to talk about war. The cups go into the world hand-to-hand, one story at a time.
My cups have been called my soldiers. The vessel has often been used as a symbol for a person. I make work you can drink out of and hold, in the hope that people will spend time with the work.
The images on the cups are often graphic and hard to look at. You may be for or against a particular war but I think it is too easy for us to look away. I think we as a country and as humans should look at what is actually going on.
I hope that some of the cups can be starting points for conversations about unspeakable things. I hope conversations flourish between veterans and the people who are close to them. I also hope that some honest conversation can happen about war and it’s the causes.
“The forms I choose are minimal and often secondary to the surface. Currently the brush is the most important instrument in my toolbox. With the layering of glaze and repeated firings the forms become ‘fired paintings’,” said Vietnam veteran Thomas Orr.
My love affair with ceramics began forty years ago as an Oceanography student. I enrolled in ceramics as a required art class and was immediately seduced by wheel throwing and the internal focus it demanded. I remain enamored with the process of constructing, decorating, and transforming materials through heat. I continue to be excited by the prospects of a freshly fired kiln.
The forms I choose are minimal and often secondary to the surface. Currently the brush is the most important instrument in my toolbox. With the layering of glaze and repeated firings the forms become “fired paintings”. I also utilize fused glass in pursuit of these abstract images.
The opaque transparency of the material is important for its lightness and lack of visual density. In both ceramic and glass the textured surface contradicts the likable wetness of glaze. The bright color is for happiness on a gray Portland day.
Daniel Donovan, who served in the army from 2001-2009 and spent 2003 in Iraq spoke of his inspiration, saying, “Being a combat veteran, as well as having unhealthy obsession with existential philosophy and science fiction, has opened my eyes to the how truly brief and absurd our lives are… I work to give these concepts and ideas form, to translate our absurdity into beauty.”
I live in Bozeman Montana and attend Montana State University. I am an MFA candidate here and spend most of my time working on sculpture and drawings when I am not teaching. I am a combat veteran, I was in the army from 2001-2009 and have my honorable discharge. Originally I am from Seattle Washington, I did my undergraduate work in Ellensburg, Washington and majored in fine art and philosophical ethics.