On Friday, September 4, 2015, the National Veterans Art Museum will open its newest exhibit, Tactical Formations: Collective Practice in the Veteran Art Movement. NVAM is pleased to announce the public opening on September 4, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. with the keynote by Michael Duffy commencing at 8 p.m.
Tactical Formations takes the basic military strategy of organizing troops into units to carry out tactical missions during combat and applies it to the practice of forming and operating art collectives in order to achieve socially grounded goals through artistic production. The exhibit explores three art collectives: The Vietnam Veterans Arts Group (VVAG), The Dirty Canteen, and the NVAM Teen Council.
The VVAG ﬁrst formed in 1981 when a group of Vietnam veterans began making artwork as an artistic response to their experiences of war. The VVAG was unique in launching the ﬁrst exhibition composed exclusively of artwork made by combat veterans. The Dirty Canteen collective formed in 2013, and includes veterans from the Gulf War, Kosovo, and the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, who strive to create and maintain open dialogues about past and current military engagements. Finally, the NVAM Teen Council represents a growing group of high school students who create artwork while developing skills in leadership and museum practices in collaboration with veteran artists. These three groups represent NVAM’s foundation, its growing population of post-Gulf War veterans, and its future leaders and artists.
Featured artists in Tactical Formations include:
VVAG members: Michael Duffy, Joseph Fornelli, Thomas Gilbertson, William Hackwell, Michael Helbing, John Plunkett, Dale Samuelson, David Sessions, John Shimashita, and Richard Yohnka.
Dirty Canteen members: Jesse Albrecht, Thomas Dang, Daniel Donovan, Amber Hoy, Giuseppe Pellicano, Erica Slone
NVAM Teen Council Members: Erin Armstrong, Keon Coleman, Jessica Deer, Milan Johnson, Jessica Torres, Kayla Sims
Keynote speaker Michael Duffy is one of the original members of the VVAG and has exhibited with the National Veterans Art Museum for over 30 years. He served in 1968 as the Executive Ofﬁcer of C Battery, 7th Battalion, 9th Artillery in and around Bear Cat and Nha Be. Duffy holds a Bachelor’s degree from Colorado College in Fine Art and has contributed art pieces to several university art collections as well as the Denver Art Museum.
Exhibition curator Destinee Oitzinger states, “This exhibit showcases the power of the collective voice. Each of the artists in Tactical Formations shares their unique ideas and experiences through their artwork, but it is when they collaborate with others who share a common mission, that change and understanding begin to take root. Throughout history, artwork has been a tool to challenge the status quo and instigate conversation. It is fascinating to see what can be achieved when talented individuals unite to create something much greater than the sum of its parts through visual art.”
Executive Director Brendan Foster notes: “Tactical Formations have been a part of our military experience throughout the course of history. The exhibit explores military issues through this fundamental concept, where artistic response is widely varied based on different experiences from the artists. NVAM feels it is important to bring together these multi-generational collectives to encourage a deeper understanding of the impact of war among different communities.”