Tuesday, April 13, 2010

'Face to Face'

In the newly re-modeled National Museum of the Pacific War there is a temporary exhibit gallery that currently houses a series of busts of World War II veterans called ‘Face to Face.’ There are currently twenty-three busts on display, all of which are of veterans of the Pacific War. It is also notable that these busts are the first out of the exhibit of one hundred to travel out of their home state of California. The exhibit will be on display through the end of May.

“Face to Face is a cultural and visual arts project centered on the sculpting of one hundred life-size busts of men and women who served in World War II. Veterans of World War II were part of a defining era in history. Many are still very active today, but to younger generations that war seems far in the past and difficult to comprehend. The clay busts have been sculpted by three artists – Claire Hanzakos, Kaija Keel, and Jilda Schwartz – who came together in community over the past two years to execute the one hundred portraits. The resulting exhibition is their collaborative effort to honor the veterans of WWII, to recognize their accomplishments, and extend the meaning of their war experiences through visual documentation – before they are forever lost and unrecorded.
The artists began by asking friends who were vets to sit for them, to share wartime photographs, and to recount stories. Many veterans were hesitant at first. They weren’t heroes, they said, just soldiers doing their duty. Would the artists be disappointed if they didn’t tell stories of great courage and daring? Some feared they would have to relive painful memories. Nevertheless they came in. In turn, they put the artists in touch with other veterans, and the scope of the project grew.
The artist soon found the rhythm for their work. The veterans arrived in threes, and each sculptor paired off with one of them in the studio. In a three-hour session, a rough portrait in clay was made, then the subject was photographed from multiple angles. These photographs were subsequently used to finish the busts.” -Exhibit Text Panel

The above photo of three busts is of brothers Irvin and Arnold Spielberg and their cousin Alvin Lerman. Both Spielberg brothers served in the Army Air Corps. Mr. Lerman was a Naval Aviator. All three of the young men served their country in the Pacific War.