Cost of War Artist Statement - 2010
The subject matter of my work deals with the devastating loss of American lives while fighting for freedom. In September of 2001, heinous acts were perpetuated on American soil by a terrorist group named Al-Qaeda. These terrorist attacks led to the United States launching Operation Enduring Freedom-Afghanistan. The US intended to remove the safe haven for Al-Qaeda and Taliban insurgents who were using the Afghan territory as a base of operations for terrorist activities. When the invasion began on October 7, 2001, polls indicated that about 88% of Americans backed military action in Afghanistan. Recent 2010 polls show that 54% of US citizens now oppose the war.
On October 11, 2001, Evander E. Andrews, the first American soldier deployed in Afghanistan, was killed. Symbolically, I chose Andrews for the first helmet I created. Porcelain clay was hand-pressed into a mold made from the Andrews' example. Each deceased soldier's name was then hand-stamped onto the side of every helmet. While working with the individual pieces, the gravity of loss became increasingly clear. Each helmet represented a single, complicated, extraordinary life. Every soldier had an existence rich with connections to family and friends. With these deaths, significant, lasting effects ripple outward with unforeseen consequence. The hope and promise of 2155 soldiers' futures have been eliminated. Evander E. Andrews was the first to be lost and every day the number grows.
To what end?
My work attempts to embody the fruitlessness of war. Eleven years after initiating the conflict in Afghanistan, the US is no further along in its agenda than when it began. Add to that, the greatest evidence of US involvement is the horrendous loss of irreplaceable lives. To date, modern war has not been a successful strategy in dealing with ambiguous, nebulous enemies. I do not, however, have to agree with the concept of war in order to honor those who fight in it. I can respect the sacrifice and those who made it without condoning the cause. My goal with "The Cost of War" is to reinforce the concept that war is not the answer. It is not the solution for attaining peace or eradicating threats to democracy. Instead, it is an indescribably expensive and wasteful use of the human potential.