Although the Obama administration announced it would end combat operations in Afghanistan in 2014, some 47,000 American troops are still there, and it’s unclear when they will all be brought home. So a new exhibition organized by SVA’s Veteran Coalition of Arts (VCA), “DECLASSIFIED: En Avant,” is especially timely.
The exhibition features paintings, illustrations and photographs by eight current students who served in Afghanistan and/or Iraq with the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard or Marine Corps: Hector Rene Membreno Canales (BFA Photography), Joel Chapman (BFA Photography), Brandon Michael Hall (BFA Photography), Kylene Kasch (BFA Illustration), Chris Miller (BFA Design), Michael Schmidt (BFA Photography), Rebecca Storer (BFA Photography) and Frankie Torres (BFA Photography).
VCA is a collective of military veterans who are studying at SVA. Rebecca Storer, a fourth-year BFA Photography student and the group’s president, curated the exhibition along with fellow student-veteran Kylene Kasch. The group works to support veterans in their transition to civilian life, encourage dialogue about the causes and effects of war, and explore “the dichotomy of being a veteran and artist post 9/11,” says Storer.
Military veterans have been part of the SVA community since the College’s founding in 1947, when most of the College’s students were beneficiaries of the G.I. Bill. Today, veterans make up a much smaller percentage of the student body, but many faculty members are veterans, including BFA Photography instructor W.M. Hunt, a Vietnam veteran who advised the students organizing “DECLASSIFIED.”
SVA’s long-standing commitment to providing a supportive environment to military students earned a “2014 Military Friendly School” designation, which ranks the College among the top 20% of higher education institutions around the country that embrace military service members, veterans and spouses as students, and work to ensure their success on campus. In 2013, SVA Veterans Counselor Gemma Prosper-Brown was elected to the Board of Directors of the National Association of Veterans Program Administrators for 2014.
“DECLASSIFIED: En Avant” will be on view Monday, March 3 through Friday, March 7 at Calumet Gallery, 22 West 22 Street, 2nd floor, with a reception on March 3 at 5:30pm.
Images from top down: Hector Rene Membreno Canales; Rebecca Storer.