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The Joe Bonham Project, Drawing the Stories of America’s Wounded Veterans, Features Artwork by Combat and Civilian Artists

Chicago, Ill (May 2015) — On Monday, May 25, 2015, the National Veterans Art Museum (NVAM) will honor Memorial Day with the opening reception of The Joe Bonham Project. The Joe Bonham Project aims to keep the dedication, sacrifices and indomitable spirit of our wounded warriors present and accounted for with more than a hundred drawings and illustrations created during the time spent patients at VA Hospitals throughout the United States. Admission to the NVAM will be free from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with light refreshments offered from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Keynote speakers will commence at 2 p.m. and include Michael D. Fay, a former Marine Corps Chief Warrant Officer and Combat Artist and Founder of The Joe Bonham Project, and Dr. Anna Stachyra, Chief of Education Services at Edward Hines, Jr., Veterans Affairs Hospital.

The Joe Bonham Project is named after the central character in Dalton Trumbo’s 1938 novel Johnny Got His Gun. Joe loses all his limbs and his face to an artillery explosion, yet survives only to be eventually ‘warehoused’ beyond human interaction. Featuring artwork created in a variety of media by fifteen combat and civilian artists, The Joe Bonham Project seeks to show the real face of war and its aftermath to the public with images that portray the realities and human consequences of combat.

Several of the artists in The Joe Bonham Project are seasoned war artists including Michael Fay, Richard Johnson, Steve Mumford, Kristopher Battles, Victor Juhasz, Roman Genn, and Robert Bates. Other artists, such as Jeffery Fisher, Fred Harper, Jess Ruliffson, Ray Alma, Bill Harris, and Josh Korenblat, have friends and family who have, or are currently serving in the armed forces. Working primarily at in-patient surgical shock-trauma wards, these artists have spent significant amounts of time with some of the most physically battle damaged soldiers, sailors and Marines. Most have endured multiple traumatic amputation injuries and disfiguring facial wounds, and will endure months of operations and challenging physical therapy. With them on this journey back to wholeness are often equally traumatized family members. All have volunteered to be sketched.

Gallery Coordinator Destinee Oitzinger notes that this exhibit is not only a series of portraits of wounded veterans, but collectively represents a side of combat that is too-often overlooked or misunderstood. Oitzinger states, “The awe-inspiring power of this exhibit lies in the fact that the artists are bringing recognition to an aspect of war that is often inconceivable to those who haven’t experienced these realities first hand. More importantly they humanize the veterans by capturing their individual personalities, and their strength and perseverance rather than equating them to merely the sum of their wounds.”


NVAM Executive Director Brendan Foster applauded the show, “The Joe Bonham Project exemplifies the heart of the National Veterans Art Museum’s mission to foster a greater understanding of the real impact of war.  This exhibit brings to the forefront the conversations that society must have about the tangible cost of war.  We are proud and honored to exhibit The Joe Bonham Project, and provide a venue in which, for many people, these conversations can begin. For those already impacted by the cost of war, this exhibition will provide an opportunity to continue these conversations.”

Artist and founder of the project, Michael Fay states, “Art and war have been interwoven with culture since man began articulating his experiences. From epic poems, myths and the earliest cave art, images and tales of warriors have shaped human consciousness through artistic expression. Today the National Veterans Art Museum continues that tradition by highlighting artistic expressions by, of and for America’s warriors. The Joe Bonham Project, a group of artists and illustrators dedicated to capturing the experiences of some of our Nation’s most profoundly physically and psychically impacted Soldiers and Marines, is honored to exhibit our work at the National Veterans Art Museum in America’s Second City.”

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The exhibit will be display from Monday, May 25th through August 28th, 2015.

About the National Veterans Art Museum

The National Veterans Art Museum is dedicated to the collection, preservation, and exhibition of art inspired by combat and created by veterans. No other gallery in the world focuses on the subject of war from and artistic perspective, making this collection truly unique. The National Veterans Art Museum addresses both historical and contemporary issues related to military service in order to give patrons of all backgrounds insight into the effects of war and to provide veterans an artistic outlet to work through their military and combat experiences.

The National Veterans Art Museum is located at 4041 N. Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago, Illinois. The National Veterans Art Museum will be open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Admission is free. For group admission reservations, call the Museum at 312-326-0270 or visit www.nvam.org.

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