DEPICTING THE INVISIBLE: A portrait series of veterans suffering from PTSD.
post - trau· mat· ic stress dis· or· dernoun. A condition of persistent mental and emotional stress occurring as a result of injury or severe psychological shock, typically involving constant vivid recall of the experience, with dulled responses to the outside world.
I was appalled to learn that twenty-two veterans commit suicide every day in our country. Mostly due to PTSD. I spent the last year and a half traveling around the country meeting with veterans and learning their stories of the hell of war, and the invisible wounds of war that can be even more devastating than the ones you can see.
It has been an honor and a privilege for me to get to know these amazing patriots and I am grateful for them entrusting me with their stories.
In this portrait series these 6x6ft mixed media works on canvas are achieved through photographic imagery, paint, and text. Each veteran makes direct eye contact unflinchingly with the viewer. Incorporated into each portrait is the veteran’s own story in their own words. In these works, they give voice to their PTSD, their reality, their world.
The elegance of the images is in direct conflict with the brutality of their stories. I am continually moved and inspired by their ability to have such gratitude and hope in the face of such devastation and trauma.
In these portraits I have painted out any reference to place heightening a sense of isolation, which these veterans live with. The black on black camouflage is a nod to their dark military experience and the patterns of black dots which I have let drip are the patterns of brain scans of people with PTSD.
My ultimate mission is not one of simplistic deification, but one of truthful illumination. This body of work is intended to not only give voice to these warriors’ harrowing, shocking, and often hopeful stories, but to create a dialogue and community around the difficult issue of PTSD.
Twenty-two veterans a day commit suicide. We must bring awareness to and help stop this epidemic.
A limited edition art book has been published of the portrait series Depicting the Invisible. All proceeds from the sale of this book will go to Freedom Fighters Outdoors, an organization helping veterans with PTSD. This edition of only 100 books will be available at the HG Contemporary Gallery throughout the duration of the exhibition.
Please purchase a book and help make a difference by supporting FFO and our Veterans.
- Susan J. Barron.