War Art: A Personal Journey

"dichotomy at checkpoint"

In April 2003 at a checkpoint south of Karbala a tragic set of misunderstandings occurred. This man  in one fell swoop lost 11 members of his family. One of the van's occupants, a seven year old, was hospitalized and later released to help bury the dead.
It was a tragic and heartbreaking story that inspired a Conversation and led to the painting above.
When my son called home in 2003 it was a time when each call was fraught with the undeclared fear that he might be sent to Iraq. The story was all over the news, and it preyed on our minds. We wondered what the checkpoint soldiers must have felt when surveying the scene. My son asked, “how do you live with something like that.” I said, “ I don’t know. All I know is that had you been there I would have expected you to do the same, because there are no second chances”. “ Because son, if it’s a choice between the life of an Iraqi child and my son I choose you, my son, my child.”
I never dreamed I would think such a thing, let alone speak it.
I cried after that phone call, for the children, for my son, for myself.

War forces us to to compromise our humanity in ways we never imagine.
My heart goes out to all those who have have had to face this. To all our soldiers we have lost, and those that struggle with injuries of the body and mind semper fi

Comments

cynthia said…
War is not pretty - I would have said the same thing as you.
Undaunted said…
A very moving post. Thank you for sharing your experience Jafabrit. I'd be fascinated to hear your explanation of the painting and what it means to you.
markstoneman said…
"War forces us to to compromise our humanity in ways we never imagine." --- Yes, this is a theme running through so many soldiers' memoirs and letters, as they struggle to get it back. I admire your candor here.
David Howard said…
It's a good thing that you as an artist can express issues pertaining to yourself, your country and those in Iraq. As an artist I feel it is important to be of our own generation speaking to own generation. Sometimes art is a personal statement and sometimes it's fun but at times the artist needs to be a voice of concern. In some ways the local artist is more valid in their response to an issue like the war, due to the fact that the money/prestige component is not a factor. Corrine, the artist mentality is a strange one, not readily understood by the general public. Much of the time I think the public see artists as mere entertainers who fiddle while Rome burns - how do we lift the profile of the artist and become viable as artists? In my Grandfathers day artist were seen as more like specialised tradesman - they would advertise for an artist to come in and do a specialised job. Today we seem to be caught between the job prospects of public art and the exotic shock of the new - where do we fit in and what is our worth. Anyway, after that ranting diatribe, I like your artwork. The need to comment on an issue so close to home is a very valid thing but the need to express beauty, as in your flower painting, is as well. Full marks for rising above the mere decorative.
MARGARET FIELD said…
oh how i have missed your thought provoking blog.
So good to be back in the land of the living,lol and good to be able to see your work
Sunil said…
Great post. That was a terrible thing. I liked the painting too.
L.M.Noonan said…
As usual David beat me to the diatribe...what the? Anyway this painting has struck a chord with me. It looks large and sometimes, bigger IS better.

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