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NVAM exhibit opens on Memorial Day

Tue, Jun 17, 2014

The National Veterans Art Museum (NVAM) will honor Memorial Day May 26 with the opening of Surrealism and War, artwork by nine veteran artists.

Surrealism and War includes Korean War veteran Jim Leedy’s seminal work The Earth Lies Screaming, which has been compared to Picasso’s Guernica in its attempt to register the grotesque futility of war.

Other featured artists include Vietnam War veterans William Dugan, Stan Gillett, Michael Helbing, and Richard Yohnka; Gulf War veteran Ehren Tool; Kosovo veteran Giuseppe Pellicano; and Iraq War veterans David Keefe and Robynn Murray.Untitled5

Surrealism attempts to revolt against the inherent contradictions of a society ruled by rational thought while dominated by war and oppression. Surrealism seeks expression of thought in the absence of all control exercised by reason and free of aesthetic and moral preoccupation. It is this same absence of control exercised by reason that many combat veterans seek to explore and express after their experiences in war.

Of his piece, The Meeting of Dark Scout and Winged Boy, Iraq veteran Keefe notes, “For the past few years, I have been exploring how multiple histories collide in timeless fashions. This concept has become a catalyst for my painting compositions that explore and expose the boundaries between reality and memory, between chronologically lived experiences and simultaneity.”

Esq-Corpse-2Curator Aaron Hughes, an Iraq veteran, said, “This show is transformational for veterans who often feel isolated in their experiences. It is not only bringing an intergenerational group of veterans together but also showing the connection to one of the most powerful modern art movements: Surrealism. It is so important for veteran artists to see themselves and their work in relationship to the history of art and artist. My generation of veterans is not the first to come home from war and express the realities and traumas of war through art. This exhibition brings that history to light and demonstrates the connection between what Iraq veterans are doing with what Vietnam, Korean, and World War I veterans have done.”

Tool, a veteran Marine whose Cup Series is featured in the show, said, “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.”

Admission to the NVAM on Memorial Day will be free 10 a.m. — 5 p.m. A Color Guard will take place at 11 a.m. and artist talks will commence at 2 p.m. Surrealism and War will be on display until November 1.


The NVAM, located at 4041 N. Milwaukee Ave., inspires greater understanding of the real impact of war with a focus on Vietnam. The museum collects, preserves and exhibits art inspired by combat and created by veterans. The NVAM is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, call the Museum at 312.326.0270 or visit www.nvam.org.

Suzanne Hanney
StreetWise Editor-In-Chief
From Prepared Materials

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