The American military in the 21st century is diverse and reflects the complexities of the country and the current times. '100 Faces of War," a traveling exhibition from the Smithsonian, presents the stories of those who served the U.S. in the Iraq and Afganistan wars.
The exhibition, organized in collaboration with artist Matt Mitchell, features 100 oil portraits of Americans representing a cross-section of home states, military branches, jobs and backgrounds. Each painting includes a candid, unedited, firsthand account of war. The statements take many different forms, including emails and letters to loved ones and poems and words written specifically for this exhibition.
As home to the oldest Veterans Home in Illinois and American Legion Post 37, as well as being host of a variety of veteran fundraisers, events and services throughout the year, Quincy, Illinois has long valued the dedication and lives of our country’s veterans. It’s because of this The Art Center is excited to host this traveling exhibition by the Smithsonian Institution in collaboration with artist Matt Mitchell.
"Quincy has a very proud lineage to the military,” says Roy Webb, Quincy Public Schools Superintendent. “Almost all conflicts our nation has endured have been fought courageously with individuals from Quincy.”
Webb served in the US Army and Army National Guard from 1980-2016, retiring as a Brigadier General in 2016.
“I am sure 100 Faces of War will help others understand the true sacrifice and patriotism displayed by those Americans who served in conflicts. I am looking forward to the exhibit.”
This incredibly moving exhibit features 100 oil painted portraits of veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and the statements and narratives that accompany each portrait can also ring true for veterans of any war.
Artist Matt Michell spent nearly ten years traveling across the country and connecting with various members of all branches and ranks of service. He not only sat down to paint their portraits, but also took time to hear and share their stories with the world.
“For many of us, the stories of war focus around the places, the politics, and battles between conflicting ideologies,” expresses Ann Titus, chair of the exhibitions committee. "This exhibition provides us with the stories that are often untold: the courage, the suffering and the resilience of those who have fought. And we desperately need their stories to remind us of the true cost of choosing war to settle our differences.”
Along with the Smithsonian exhibit, the Art Center is organizing a variety of related activities with other organizations to make this an experience the whole community can share in.
“Quincy Museum will be collaboring with The Art Center by opening its own history exhibit featuring items belonging to veterans and military items from here in Quincy and Adams County,” says Barbara Wilkinson-Fletcher, Executive Director of the museum. Wilkerson is a veteran herself, serving 12 years in the U.S. Army. She adds, “As a veteran, I am excited this Smithsonian exhibit is coming to Quincy. I look forward to seeing the portraits and reading the stories of my fellow service members. No matter what branch of the military we served in, or when we served, all veterans share a common bond that make us more alike than different. This exhibit will be very moving and emotional. I am particularly excited that the stories of female veterans will be told. So often, we are an invisible segment of the veteran community.”
Along with activities, participating locations will also serve as letter writing stations for Operation Gratitude, where the public can write letters of thanks to active duty service members and veterans. Learn more about the exhibition here: https://www.quincyartcenter.org/event/100-faces-of-war-2/.
Take a video tour of the exhibition at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQb2dUXXUc8&t=734s.
Arts Quincy is a proud sponsor of this exhibition through Arts Dollars Grants.
In 2005, Massachusetts artist Matt Mitchell felt disconnected from recent war conflicts, had no connection to the military, and knew no one who served. Deeply inspired and moved by an article in a local newspaper about an Iraq veteran, Jeffrey Lucey, coming home, Mitchell decided to learn more about the American experience of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. He contacted the veteran’s parents, and Jeffrey Lucey became the first individual he painted for 100 Faces of War. Lucey’s portrait, along with portraits of 99 others who served, are featured in the exhibition.