The Joe Bonham Project: Drawing the Stories of America’s Wounded Veterans
By Jackie Brinkman | University Communications
AURORA, Colo. – Injured veterans are the focus of a new art exhibit opening at the Fulginiti Pavilion for Bioethics and Humanities at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Told by a group of combat artists, the Joe Bonham Project: Drawing the Stories of America’s Wounded Veterans documents the courageous and traumatizing stories of injured US service members and their families. The free exhibit opens to the public on Thursday, April 10, and runs through June 12, 2014.
The exhibit came about in 2011 when a group of American, Canadian and Australian artists began using pencil and paint to document the experiences of devastatingly injured service members at inpatient shock and trauma wards in military hospitals. The artists were inspired by Joe Bonham, the central character in Dalton Trumbo’s 1938 novel, Johnny Got His Gun. Horribly wounded in combat, Bonham’s plan to highlight the grim realities of war by touring the USA in a glass box was never realized as he lived out his days alone and forgotten.
Featuring original artworks created by 16 artists, the Joe Bonham Project includes the personal stories of the injured veterans and their families to provide an insight into the realities of war and to ensure that a new generation of “Joe Bonhams” are not forgotten.
One of the many veterans whose story is documented in the exhibition is Lance Corporal William Kyle Carpenter. While serving in Afghanistan’s Helmand province in 2010, Carpenter, 21, sustained horrific injuries after intentionally covering a grenade to save the life of his friend and fellow soldier, Lance Cpl. Nicholas Eufrazio. His selfless act of bravery has been recognized by Washington, and Carpenter will receive the nation’s highest combat valor award – the Congressional Medal of Honor – later this year. .
The exhibit has shown in a number of cities around the country and featured in the New York Times. Curator Simon Zalkind will be joined by founder of the project, Michael D. Fay, a former official combat artist in the US Marine Corps, and Steve Mumford, a contemporary American painter whose work includes scenes from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The exhibit opens on Thursday, April 10, from 4:00 – 7:00 PM.
Student veterans at the University of Colorado Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus are served by the Office of Veteran Student Services which is home to the largest Veteran Student Organization in the state. The VSO is working with exhibit organizers to arrange a private viewing time for student veterans.
One evening during the exhibit will be set aside to welcome military veterans participating in the Art of War project which was started by CU Denver fine arts major and student veteran Curtis Bean. Bean paints and draws to relieve stress and offers classes to other veterans who use the art as therapy. He plans to hold an Art of War class in the gallery.
A Veterans Film Festival will be part of programming around the exhibit with four films screened on Saturday evenings in April and May at 6:30 p.m. Howie Movshovitz, PhD, director of film education in CU Denver’s College of Arts and Media, will introduce the first film, “Johnny Got His Gun,” on Apr.12 and the final film, “Khandahar,” on May 17. The films are free and open to the public.
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