There are a few things that I consider very personal: just mine, with a special, specific and emotional connection. First of all, there are my kids and my grandsons. My immediate family and chosen family. My oldest and dearest friend, Kate, who was in the first choir I directed way back in 19….well, never mind. Just know that I taught a lot of years and have been retired for almost twenty! Then, of course, my dog, Nuada. I also consider some photographic work I have done, and continue to do in Cambodia, very personal. More on that….MUCH MORE… later.
Let’s see….”Duty and Dignity”, a personal project I began about four years ago. I began this to raise awareness, through portraiture, of a population of United States Veterans who, through one reason or another, find themselves homeless.
Duty and Dignity, artist’s statement
Every man featured in this exhibit served his country in the United States Armed Forces.
He also is, or has been, homeless.
For the past few decades, our country has been honoring the Wounded Warriors and Fallen Heroes in great ways. We revere the dedication, service and sacrifices of these men and women, young and old who have given so much to keep us free in this country. There is, however, an underserved population of Veterans…those that find themselves, for one reason or another, homeless. We have dedicated men and women who are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, drug and alcohol addiction, mental illness and unemployment.
How many of us look away when we are near a homeless person?
Who of us takes a moment to question their story?
How many of us are careful NOT to make eye contact?
I challenge each person who views these photographs of our Veterans to look into their eyes and consider what they have sacrificed and what their story might be.
The adventure I am on now, a few weeks of wandering through the Carolinas, has connected me with some wonderful, caring folks that want to help my personal project reach more people and raise more awareness. The inspiring team of the Forsyth County United Way (Winston-Salem) will be working with me to create a Duty and Dignity Project for their homeless Veterans population. The members’ enthusiasm and brainstorming bring new ideas to the table. They have contacted the art department at a local college and the students will do the matting and framing for the exhibit, a brilliant idea! Nothing like finding ways to get more community involvement!
I had a meeting yesterday in Transylvania County ( yes, that’s right!) with a retired journalist who has arranged a meeting tomorrow with the president of their United Way. They, in turn, will have contacts with Asheville, NC.
In my last post, I wrote about not really planning an adventure. Let it run its course and be open to what it brings. This adventure has really gotten personal!
Get out of the house….
This is a beautiful, heart breaking project. And all roads lead to Ashville. Plus, every time I think “Am I crazy? I can’t go to Cambodia!” your images tell me, “Yes, you can.”
As our Barack says, “Yes we can!”