Jaeson “Doc” Parsons, director of Project Operations for the The Graffiti of War Project writes on the emotions of war captured through art.
Growing up around the inner-cities of Chicago and Dallas, I was exposed to countless territory tags of gangs and memorial murals for fallen members. A pride of sorts developed over the years as graffiti evolved from simply an act of defiance to an expression of the soul. In much the same way, Conflict Art is an expression and varies in stylistic and artistic qualities.
Though Street Art in the Western World has evolved into a respected genre of art, Conflict Art is just beginning to be recognized as more than simply illicit creations made in haste as bullets were flying and bombs were falling. During my own deployment, I began to see the significance of what this artwork represented: an unconventional, historical record of the conflicts of our generation. In collecting and documenting these images, we—the spectators—can examine the truth behind the propaganda, pull the curtain back, if you will, and truly feel the emotions of those who experienced war in all of its Technicolor horror.
In this age of technology and continuous news from around the globe, our senses have become immune to the statistics digitally mainlined into our brains; 1,000 dead or 10,000 wounded: just numbers on a screen with no meaning or feeling, cold and tasteless. After ten years of two conflicts and the public force-feeding of data, the world is more informed, but paradoxically, it is more detached. How can one truly understand an experience through digital statistics? I would venture to say that one cannot.
However, art has always been used as a tool to share the experiences and feelings of another. In fact, many believe the true purpose of art is the transposition of the viewer into the emotions of the artist.
If one can look at a creative work—whether it be a painting, poem, song, or sculpture—and feel what the artist was feeling—garner a new understanding of another human’s experience—that work of art has fulfilled its purpose.
The variation of Conflict Art is wide-reaching; from a simple sentence on a wall to a mural stretching over multiple walls, each one tells a story, shares an emotion, and documents a moment in history for someone who experienced it first-hand.
By showcasing these images, we bring back moments in time to experience the wounds of many who will never get to tell their story, and we provide the world with a unique opportunity to feel another’s joy or sorrow, another’s loneliness or pride.
Conflict Art is more than just war and more than just art. It is the emotions of war captured on the canvas of conflict, showcasing the intimate experiences of the warriors who fought, whether they are civilian or military. And experiencing Conflict Art could be the most effective way for the general public to gain a more complete and honest understanding of what war is like for those who suffered the agony of combat.
– Jaeson “Doc” Parsons