There’s only a few weeks left to view 100 Faces of War Experience at the National Veterans Art Museum. The exhibition, on view only until May 1st, is an open contemplation of the American experience of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It consists of portraits of 100 veterans who were chosen to represent the statistical demographics of the American involvement in these conflicts. Each person was asked to provide the words that accompany their portrait. They are allowed total freedom in what they want to say. This exhibition is timed to coincide with the official end of war in Afghanistan and it is meant to be a place of open contemplation upon the American experience of these wars.
These portraits represent a cross section of the American experience of these wars and the statements of the people pictured reveal a candid, unedited understanding of our recent history. Nine years in the making, 100 Faces was created by Artist Matt Mitchell. Each portrait represents a part of the American statistics of these wars and comes out of a personal meeting between the artist and the person pictured. For posthumous portraits the artist worked with the family and the words are provided by the family.
The NVAM aims to inspire a 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. Since its inception in 1981, the NVAM has been a space for military personnel, veterans, and civilians to open a dialogue over the real impact of war. All artwork is created by veterans and, on some level, serves as therapeutic for them and the communities they exist within. The truly unique museum features work by combat veterans from all conflicts. The National Veterans Art Museum also has many educational opportunities to help you access, explore and connect with our one-of-a-kind collection.
The Vietnam Veterans Art Group formed in Chicago in 1981. One year later, the group mounted its first exhibit of veteran artwork entitled “Reflexes and Reflections.” The exhibit toured museums and galleries nationwide. The overwhelming emotional response to the work, along with an increasing amount of contributions by artists, led to the official establishment of a permanent museum. Upon viewing the collection, Mayor Richard Daley was so personally moved that he allocated a permanent building to house the collection. The National Vietnam Veterans Art Museum opened its doors at the original location at 1801 S. Indiana Avenue in 1996.
Since 2003, the museum has broadened its mission to include art by veterans of all wars. In 2010, the word Vietnam was dropped, and we became the National Veterans Art Museum (NVAM). Today, NVAM’s Permanent Collection features more than 255 veteran artists, and consists of more than 2,500 works of art, including paintings, photography, sculpture, poetry and music. The artwork showcased at NVAM provides a unique perspective on the controversial subject of war to all. It is a tenuous and reflective balance of beauty and horror, providing unique insight into the psyche of combat veterans and the consequential impact war leaves on its survivors.