Veterans Book Project redeploys wartime experiences through art
Milwaukee, Wis. – On April 4, the Milwaukee Art Museum opens the Veterans Book Project: Objects for Deployment. The exhibition comprises a library of books that artist Monica Haller created in collaboration with veterans and others with experiences of the American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. All veterans receive free Museum admission during the run of the exhibition, through November 10, 2013.
The Veterans Book Project evolved out of a book that Monica Haller authored with Riley Sharbonno, a veteran and nurse at Abu Ghraib prison. Since 2006, the project has facilitated thirteen bookmaking workshops around the country, including at the Museum in December 2012. In these workshops, combat and non-combat veterans, their families, and others affected by the current American wars are invited to edit and design their archives and stories into softbound, print-on-demand books. Five books were created by local authors in the workshop at the Museum—a soldier’s mother, a Vietnam War veteran, two veterans of the Iraq war, and a local scholar whose research brings her into close contact with veterans.
The fifty books in the exhibition serve to redeploy the volatile images of war for a broad audience, while helping the authors rearticulate their memories and fashion narratives so as to make the experiences more manageable. Each book not only stands on its own but also works in concert with the larger collection, which Haller sees as an archive, a container of memory traces and image fragments from wars that are not talked about nearly enough.
“It is a privilege to present this exhibition at the Milwaukee Art Museum,” said Daniel Keegan, director. “The books in the Veterans Book Project are designed so they can be read quickly; for the exhibition, the Museum’s Pieper Education Gallery is being transformed into an interactive reading room, where visitors are invited to sit and read.”
The exhibition and the Panel Discussion on April 4 offer viewers the opportunity to engage with veterans’ experiences through reading, writing responses, informal conversation, and facilitated discussion.
The Veterans Book Project continues the Museum’s joint mission with the War Memorial Corporation “to honor the dead by serving the living.”
The Veterans Book Project is presented at the Milwaukee Art Museum by the Runzheimer Foundation, with additional support from Comfort Inn & Suites, Downtown Lakeshore.
EXHIBITION OPENING AND RECEPTION
Thursday, April 4, 5–8 pm
6:15 pm Panel Discussion
ABOUT MILWAUKEE ART MUSEUM
Celebrating its 125th anniversary in 2013, the Milwaukee Art Museum collection houses over 30,000 works, with strengths in 19th- and 20th-century American and European art, contemporary art, American decorative arts, and folk and self-taught art. The Museum campus is located on the shores of Lake Michigan and spans three buildings, including the Santiago Calatrava-designed Quadracci Pavilion and the Eero Saarinen-designed Milwaukee County War Memorial Center. For more information, please visit www.mam.org.