Veteran exhibit portrays gritty images of wounded soldiers' lives

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Veteran exhibit portrays gritty images of wounded soldiers' lives

The images of wounded soldiers in the Joe Bonham Project are raw. The subjects are real.

"None of these soldiers and Marines that you see in these pictures is by accident," said artist Michael D. Fay. "They, with their colostomy bags, their diapers, their raw wounds and tubes running everywhere, they said, "Here we are."

Fay is director of the Joe Bonham Project, which is an assembly of work by artists documenting the experiences of servicemen and women recovering from catastrophic wounds. He started the project after completing four combat tours embedded with a U.S. Marine unit

The exhibit will be on display at the National Veterans Art Museum in Chicago until August 28.

"One day you're standing next to your friend, and he's gone the next day," said Mark York, a veteran of the U.S. Army who said he served from 1971-74, who visited the exhibit on Monday. "The next minute he's gone, or part of him is gone, you know? And you know that could affect your psyche in any kind of way."

On Monday, many who came to the National Veterans Art Museum never served, but recognized the importance of honoring those who have.

Rosemarie Mitchell said the artwork is moving, adding that the bravery of the soldiers is immeasurable.

"I think there was someone who wrote, "We think of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars as flag-draped coffins and we forget about the soldiers who were wounded are still very much the face of the war," said Mitchell, of South Barrington. "And this certainly makes it come to life."

The artwork may then be move between the Smithsonian and the Army and Marine Corps Combat Art Collections.
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