MARIPOSA – The Mariposa County Arts Council and the Keith M. Bertken Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #6042 invites the public to the opening of a special exhibition of art titled In Uniform, on Saturday, Nov. 7, from 3:30 to 7 p.m. at the Mariposa County Arts Council’s Treetop Gallery.
Curated by Arts Council Director Cara Goger, In Uniform includes the work of Drew Cameron, Binh Danh, and Pam DeLuco — artists who utilize military uniforms in the art-making process to explore the experience of war individually, collectively and environmentally to tell the stories of American military veterans.
Pam DeLuco is a textile artist and co-founder of Shotwell Papermill (San Francisco, Calif.). Her book, Paper Dolls, shares the stories of women in the armed forces through accurate renderings of their uniforms in the form of hand made paper dolls.
Paper Dolls is a modern and artistic military anthology honoring the service of female veterans. Paper Dolls has been featured on PBS’ television show Craft in America, the Huffington Post, Atlantic Cities and the New York Times, and can be found in the collections of the Rhode Island School of Design, Print Making Center of New Jersey, Arizona State University, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Thomas J. Watson Library.
A modern photographic pioneer, Binh Danh’s work considers collective memory and the lasting remnants of war through his unique chlorophyll prints. Using photosynthesis, Danh has created a project using military camouflage patterns exposed directly onto leaves (specifically, leaves that bear a striking resemblance to the tropical leaves found in his native Vietnam).
This project, titled Military Foliage, not only turns the idea of camouflage on its head by disguising the appearance of natural elements, but also explores how a country’s landscape can bear witness to the wars fought on its soil. Danh’s work can be found in the collections of the M.H. de Young Museum (San Francisco, Calif.) the National Gallery in Washington D.C., the Philadelphia Museum of Art (Philadelphia, PA), the George Eastman House (Rochester, NY), and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (San Francisco, Calif.) among many other institutions. His projects and exhibitions have been covered by National Geographic, the New York Times, the Boston Globe, Arts Illustrated, Artsweek, the Los Angeles Times, and National Public Radio’s Morning Edition.
Artist and Iraq War veteran Drew Cameron uses military uniforms to create handmade paper that become the foundation of his artwork. His organization Combat Paper conducts paper-making workshops where veterans use their uniforms to create their own works of art.
In a modern iteration of the long tradition of turning swords into ploughshares, during these workshops uniforms are cut up, beaten into a pulp and formed into sheets of paper on which veterans create art that expresses their experiences with the military.
Cameron’s artwork can be found in the collections of the Rhode Island School of Design’s Fleet Library (Providence, RI), the Library of Congress (D.C.), the New York Public Library (New York, NY), and the Wisconsin Veterans Museum Research Center Library (Madison, WI). His work has been included in exhibitions at Los Angeles’ Museum of Craft and Folk Art, San Francisco’s Museum of Craft and Design, the Capshaw-Spielberg Center for the Performing Arts, New Roads School in San Monica, Calif., the Museum of Contemporary Craft in Portland, OR, and the Southern Exposure in San Francisco, Calif.
Incorporated throughout the exhibition are uniforms belonging to local veterans and individuals still serving in the military.
“There are approximately 2,500 veterans living in Mariposa County; that is well over 10 percent of our county’s population,” says Arts Council Executive Director Cara Goger. “It is important to recognize their service to our country and the sacrifices they’ve made to uphold the ideals and values we hold so dear. The weight of war is very heavy and it can be very difficult for both veterans and civilians to open a conversation about what it means to serve in a combat zone.
“I think it’s critical for the general public to move beyond a passing curiosity or abstracted notion about military service and take it upon themselves to grow their understanding in this area. My hope is that this exhibition both honors our local veterans and opens the door a little wider for a constructive dialogue about our collective responsibilities and shared understanding of war.”
In Uniform is jointly organized by the Mariposa County Arts Council and Mariposa’s Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6042. It will open at the Mariposa County Arts Council’s Treetop Gallery on Nov. 7, with a public reception, and run through early March. The gallery is located at 5009 Highway 140 in Mariposa. Complimentary public programming for the exhibition will include a public talk and an art-making workshop conducted by Drew Cameron of Combat Paper on Feb. 11-12, 2016.
This exhibition is funded by the California Arts Council’s Veterans in the Arts Pilot Grant Program and is designed to bring together Mariposa’s diverse and geographically dispersed community of veterans, create opportunities to initiate connections among both veterans and the general public, and bring awareness of veterans’ experiences to the larger community.
The MARIPOSA COUNTY ARTS COUNCIL, INC. is an incorporated not-for-profit organization, created to promote and support all forms of the cultural arts, for all ages, throughout Mariposa County and is funding in part by Mariposa County, the California Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts.