The Radical Vulnerability Exhibit at the National Veterans Art Museum. It features work by veterans of Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Global War on Terror that explore their relationship to personal, political, and social vulnerabilities during a time of war.
Edgar Gonzalez Baeza is a Army Reserves Veteran whose work is reactionary to either something he sees or encounters. He describes his art making as frenetic and emotional.
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The inspiration for “They’re Mine to Keep” emerged from a group discussion where a 90’s Gulf War veteran had spoken if only superficially of his struggles with PTSD and what he experienced during his time in service. He gestured his hand to his chest stating that all the memories and all the people he lost “They’re Mine to Keep” in what was a pained cry for help, as well as a declaration that he will come to terms in his own time, and his burden is not ours to bear. His gesture was both protective of his memories and indicating his heartache.
Veterans carry with them memories, both good and bad, of battle buddies and companions who either helped them through the toughest times or borne the ultimate burden, and paid the ultimate price in manners which at times are beyond words or expressions. With a still existing stigma that “needing help” is a sign of weakness, many veterans still carry with them burdensome recollections which they struggle with alone, which may not and should not be necessary. – Edgar
Thoughts on Radical Vulnerability: There have been many names far more descriptive for the trauma which is now clinically known as Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. Soldier’s Heart, Combat Fatigue, and Shell Shock are some descriptive names for it. Everyone deal with it differently, and because of a stigma that anything but square jawed-stoicism, or “taking it like a man” is the only way to deal with it, people who believe that are enacting a disservice to themselves, as often it takes a greater amount of courage to be honest with yourself, embrace the fear and pain, and cry little. – Edgar
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