The Gift Shop at the End of the War

Western Illinois University
Heating Plant Annex Rm 111
April 6th – April 21st 2016

Much of my time spent growing up as a pseudo army brat was spent in Army Navy surplus stores rummaging through boxes of leftover equipment and ephemera. In the summertime, while other kids were out playing sports with their friends, my family went to countless airshows where I learned about the aircraft from my father’s time in Vietnam. in an attempt to understand the military service of the men and women who came before me, I spent countless hours reading about armed conflict.

During the school year, I tagged along to Veteran’s organization meetings and participated in local parades by carrying the banner of our local VietNow chapter. As I grew older, I never forgot my time with the aging vets and began to understand how their post-wartime personalities were shaped by living through the mentally and physically destructive situations of modern warfare.

Since becoming a maker, I’ve continually incorporated the imagery of wartime into my work, both literally and figuratively. WWI and II ship camouflage becomes decorative patterning, GI canteens embody liquor flasks, and tracer fire morphs into abstract plate decoration. It is my goal, that by removing context, the objects will continue to be both decorative and functional.  However, as the pieces are grouped together, they speak of times when soldiers participated in some of the most brutal armed conflicts of modern history.

The Gift Shop at the end of the War was a collection of approximately 12-15 wood fired flasks based on Allied WWII canteen forms. By utilizing the wood firing process, fly ash collects and saturates the flashing slip in a way that speaks of material degradation. The crackled and flashed surfaces appear as if the the canteens were discarded on the muddy battlefield only to be rediscovered years later. Presented alongside these canteens were additional groupings of dazzle decorated wood fired bottles and naval inspired serving boats.  Additionally, a small selection of aeronautical soda and high fired wall plates and platters were displayed.

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