CITIZEN SOLDIER is a painting and documentary film project focused on bringing positive attention to the accounts of soldiers returning and returned from foreign wars. These dialogues will be related through the medium of portrait painting and video interview documentation. A series of portraits both visual and audio will be developed and act as living symbols for cultural healing and social unity. By the recapitulation of personal histories a larger socio-political exposition is related detailing the impact of war.

The personal histories are not for consumption, or intended to exploit or trivialize. This will not be a sensationalized retelling of combat stories, but to offer an intimate portrait of the persons who pay the price of war. The project is an effort to dignify those who have committed to serve this country and its interests at the basest level. Our stories will open up a dialogue between soldiers as citizens and citizens who are not soldiers.

The partnership, citizen/soldier, will dictate the paintings. Portraits in their creation will be forms of reflective meditation, of sensitive communication and community building. With painting the artist will connect with earliest modes of graphic representation while investigating the efficacy and legitimacy of art, both organic and digital, in our culture of spectacle…including the spectacle of war. The honest interviews will be their own cultural reckoning and unburdening of the past. By using stop action animation technique the portraits will come to life in stride with each audio interview playing alongside it. Painting and digital technology will unite metaphorically embodying states of re-emergence and re-integration.

Within the collaborative personal connection of portrait painting and story telling the war machine becomes humanized. Painting as a means of inquiry and fellowship manifests an act of protest and peace. As an exploration into the imperious drive to warfare- global betterment or elitist profiteering… where do the soldiers and citizens find themselves in this equation? A larger community is involved, outside of the confines of the military experience. At some point, the soldier rejoins, society, not as a soldier, but as a veteran. The interview dialogues address deeper moral ambiguities regarding war and all that it affects.

Jack Leamy


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