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New exhibition highlights autobiographical veteran artist experience

 

CHICAGO, IL — The National Veterans Art Museum (NVAM) announces the opening of its solo exhibition Operation Mom’s Couch—the newest exploration of the veteran experience through the lens of an Airman and his cultural consumption of war stemming back to early childhood memories, juxtaposed with his lived authentic enlisted experience. The way in which war is broadcast to the public and consumed on couches all across the world—becoming a daily part of the home environment—is a phenomenon explored by retired Air Force veteran, and award-winning artist: Eric J. Garcia. The exhibition will open on February 26, 2016 with a reception from 6 – 9 PM. Eric J. Garcia will deliver the keynote speech.

Known for mixing history and culture with contemporary themes, Eric J. Garcia creates art that expands the genre beyond aesthetics.  Garcia has shown in numerous national and international exhibitions, has received many awards such as the prestigious Jacob Javits Fellowship and is currently an artist in residence at the Hyde Park Art Center.  Originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico, Garcia came to Chicago in 2007, to study at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where he earned his Masters of Fine Arts degree.  A versatile artist working in an assortment of media, from hand-printed posters, to published political cartoons, to sculptural installations, they all have a common goal of educating and challenging.
Inspired by exposure to war imagery and iconography stemming from early childhood visceral memories, this exhibit serves as an installation-based narrative that illustrates the unfiltered experiences, emotions, and personal connections through fine art from the veteran that lived the story. The exhibit builds and alludes to questions related to war and its portrayal, as well the humanistic experience of the consumption of war depictions via: mainstream media and the news, cartoons, comic books, movies, videogames, and other various outlets that serve to depict war for consumption as a commodity. Garcia provides viewers intimate insights into how he would re-tell his narrative, starting with his earliest experiences of cultural consumption of war stemming back to childhood—his mother’s couch. The telling exhibition prompts viewers to consider their personal stories and contemplate how they might share their own narratives.

By incorporating sculptural installation, 3D Objects and mixed media, the artist has constructed a unique environment for viewers, which harnesses essential elements of storytelling. Operation Mom’s Couch begins by chronicling the artist’s exposure to different war imagery in the home environment and the subsequent consumption of war culture through first-hand visual accounts and descriptions and artwork. The exhibition culminates in a multifaceted piece entitled “The War Nest” with a suspended mobile. Garcia states: “On my mom’s couch is where I watched war shows, read war comics, played war video games and reenacted many war scenes.  This couch was a nest of military propaganda that incubated a future recruit.  Let’s sit back on that couch and investigate that environment that nurtures us…”

With artworks and objects from NVAM’s permanent collection displayed alongside Garcia’s work, the National Veterans Art Museum is exhibiting a multitude of sculptural combat-inspired art and objects collected over 30 years in conjunction with the tone and thematic elements of Garcia’s work.

With didactic guides and lesson plans that accompany the artwork and artifacts, visitors of all ages can gain a better understanding of the significance of combat inspired art, as explored in Operation Mom’s Couch, as well as explore possibilities and benefits of personal storytelling.

Operation Mom’s Couch is partially supported by Bank of America.

About the National Veterans Art Museum
In October 1981, a group of Vietnam War veterans put together an exhibition of artwork based on their war experiences. The success of the show led to the establishment of the Vietnam Veterans Art Group. Fifteen years later, with a building donated, the National Vietnam Veterans Art Museum was launched. In 2003, the museum began accepting work by veterans of all conflicts and, in 2010, changed its name to the National Veterans Art Museum (NVAM).Located in Chicago IL, the NVAM’s comprehensive permanent collection of combat inspired art comprises over 2,500 pieces. The collection includes art inspired from the time of World War II to the present day. The collection was built to inspire an understanding of the impact of combat on the individuals who served as well as our society at large. And the permanent collection—spanning over 30 years—continues to grow it includes painting, print, photography and sculpture.
While the NVAM is one of the only museums in the world to collect and exhibit artwork exclusively created by veterans in a permanent exhibition, it also provides important programming for veterans, their families, and the community. For more information about the National Veterans Art Museum, visit www.nvam.org, or call 312-326-0270. For more information, visit www.nvam.org or call 312-326-0270.
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