Community College Art Students Team With Veterans Returning to College
I meet with faculty, students, and graduates quite a bit, and I like to share their stories. This is an occasional series.
Front Range printmaking students and their instructor have created works of art for an online gallery that stems from a unique perspective: veterans returning to college.
Yvette M. Pino, an Army veteran who returned from duty in Iraq and enrolled as an art student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, founded the Veteran Print Project. She found herself becoming more isolated from the general student population – a common feeling among veterans, I’m told – and turned to her art for solace.
Veterans and Artists Come Together.
She took it one step further. She brought veterans and artists together one-on-one. The veterans talk about their experiences and share photos and stories. The artists – printmakers – convey what they heard and saw into art. The result is an oral history and a fine-art depiction of that history.
FRCC Artists, Colorado State University Veterans.
The project spread to Colorado State University and to Front Range Community College. Front Range students Austin Searock, Duff Norris, and Jordan Oso and instructor Farrell Tompkins met with veterans at CSU. The results were on display at CSU and still can be found online.
I had a chance to talk with Austin and Duff about the experience.
Marine Veteran of Iraq.
Austin met with Phillip Jones, a Marine veteran of two tours of Iraq and sophomore international studies/economics major at CSU. “I met my veteran five or six times,” Austin told me. “We talked and looked at pictures.
“It was cool. I enjoyed it a lot. He was great.”
The result of the meetings was a three-color wood reduction cut, Untitled, which depicts a diversion soldiers turned to during off-duty times.
Cold War Veteran.
“His story was interesting,” Duff told me, “but almost all of what he did was top secret. The details can’t be released. He’s never been recognized for his service, the risks he took, the challenges he overcame.”
Duff’s print, “Thank You,” carries some text: “In honor of those who serve in silence.”
Navy Corpsman, Marine Squad Leader.
Jordan titled his piece “Clay,” in honor of the veteran he met, Clay Worman, who was a hospital corpsman in the Navy.
Farrell’s veteran, Paul V. Hodge V, a social work major at CSU, was a Marine squad leader in Iraq whose sense of duty was to the well-being of his squad and the mission at hand. Thus, “Bearer.”
Are you a veteran who’s returned to college? How has the adjustment been for you? Do you have suggestions on how to feel more integrated?