Joe Bonham Project

Update: Apparently wordpress only allows specific video links when you aren’t paying them. So no more embedding, just links to the videos.

NYT video Drawing Warriors: Art as Documentation and Therapy for Wounded Vets

THE JOE BONHAM PROJECT represents the efforts of wartime illustrators to document the struggles of U.S. service personnel undergoing rehabilitation after traumatic front-line injury. Formed in early 2011 by Michael D. Fay, the Project takes its name from the central character in Johnny Got His Gun, Dalton Trumbo’s 1938 novel of a World War I soldier unable to communicate with the outside world due to the extent of his wounds. Scheduled to coincide with the tenth anniversary of the attacks of September 11, the exhibition will mark the silent sacrifices of American soldiers in the ensuing decade-long conflict.

The blog link has some gut-wrenching pieces on display. There is an emotional and visceral quality, in these sketches of wounded veterans, that isn’t inherent in photography. The illustrator in the video touches upon this effect, when he mentions the intimacy that a drawing creates. There is no relationship between the photographer and the subject, simply because it takes mere seconds to preserve an image. Illustration captures a memory, a personality, it spans time in a way that a photograph is simply incapable of conveying. I liked the fact that the artists (in the video) learn to see the soldiers as individuals, and they are drawn (no pun intended) into their lives and the circumstances that led them, both the artists and the soldiers, to this place. How often does the art world cross into the world of war, and how often do artists come face to face with broken bodies, faces hiding pain behind humor, and the only defensible position they have left, their pride?

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