Wednesday, November 7, 2018

EVAC Project Brings Veterans’ Stories to Life

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.

And when it comes to stories of battles, life-saving actions, and other snippets of life in the military, a painting or drawing is worth just as much.

The Experiencing Veterans and Artists Collaborations (EVAC) Project pairs artists with veterans to bring their firsthand accounts of their time in the military to life. American Frame is proud to host the EVAC Project in our showroom November 5th through November 30th.

Attendees can read the stories of Veterans from every branch of the military from World War II through the Post-9/11 era, then see the artist’s interpretation of the same story.

For veteran Michael, the Army was a chance to test himself and improve his skills. He served from 2005 to 2013 and was stationed in Iraq for some of that time. What started as a four-month deployment there eventually stretched into 18 months.

“It’s interesting the way the mind and the body all works together,” he said. “You don’t think you can carry that much weight or exist in that much heat. And then you do.”

Participant Ernest served in the Army from 1970 to ‘71. He recalls saving a fellow soldier injured by a landmine by sticking his fingers in the man’s chest wound to stop blood loss. He put him on a helicopter but assumed he had died until he encountered him years later at an Army reunion.

“The only way I would know you is if you had a bunch of holes in your chest,” Ernest told the man. “He looked at me and unbuttoned his shirt and pulled his T-shirt up.  I put my fingers back in those holes. He had lived. But for 29 years I thought he had died. Stuff like that gets burned into your mind and it just doesn’t go away.”

Artist Susan Chouteau’s painting depicts Ernest and the man he saved, both of their hands covering the holes in his chest.
Lauren, who also told her story as part of the project, served in the Army during Vietnam and remembers the hatred she faced upon her return from the unpopular war.
 “I expected a welcome. I thought that's what it was all about. When our plane landed, there was a gaggle of women on the other side of the chain link fence. And I thought ‘Wow this is great. A welcome.’ Well it was welcome in terms of jeers, accusations of “baby killer,” of spitting. Being gone one month short of four years, I hadn't had any knowledge of the animus that existed against Vietnam. It was exceedingly painful. People around me acted like I had leprosy.”
Nick remembers joining the Navy in 2002 to escape a hard life as a gay man in a small town. He said eventually, hiding who he was became even harder.

“It takes a toll on your energy and your soul,” he said. “Just lying about yourself and who you are every single day for five years is pretty exhausting. Even if you have friends who know and don’t care, you still have to lie.”
Leonard, who also told his story, served in the Army from 1944 to 1946, starting when he was just 18.

“The Battle of the Bulge was first. My first real combat. I crossed the Rhine River on my 19th birthday,” he said “From there, we went down to these concentration camps, and that was something.  Humans stacked up, some of them half dead, some of them dead. Something I don’t want to see again. There were some in their bunks that we took out that were still alive, but they didn’t know it.”

See more of the stories for yourself when the EVAC project comes to American Frame. A reception will take place at 5:30 p.m. Friday, November 9th, with a silent auction running until 7 p.m.


  1. This sounds like an extremely amazing exhibit. The pictures look great. I will have to check this out.

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