Reader review: Omaha veteran explores trauma of war


July 3rd, 2012

Omaha, NE – An Omaha veteran is the subject and artist in War is Trauma, a print exhibit highlighting the experiences of soldiers in their family.

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“One sergeant even threatened to kill me because I was a slut that would get everyone killed while we were deployed.” Words of experience by Omaha veteran Shawna Foster, featured in one of 34 prints organized by Iraq Veterans Against the War.

“Everything in the Army was Fine: Shawna” by Siri Margerin. (Click to enlarge)

New York-based artist Siri Margerin created the print entitled Everything in the Army was Fine: Shawna a rendering of Foster in full combat uniform with a large gun slung on her arm, ready for fire. Along the page are quotes by Foster of her experience in war.

The exhibit was brought to Omaha by Foster to raise community awareness for the military and families, highlighting the unseen trauma of service members.

The rest of the prints are equally as heavy and intricately rendered. Some are about love and heartbreak, like Peter Sullivan’s War is Trauma Hug showing a couple tightly embracing with the title words encapsulating them like a tornado. Some are more metaphorical like Roger Peet’s War is Trauma for Humans and Otherwise showing a jaguar crouched atop a grenade ready to pounce. Some are more educational like Foster’s herself which is going to be on view for the first time, featuring statistics of military sexual trauma and suicide printed on combat paper.

“War is Trauma for Humans and Otherwise” by Roger Peet. (Click to enlarge)

The prints will be on view through the month of July, along with a one-night-only poetry reading on July 14, organized by local poet Cat Dixon. Local writers will reveal their war experience and the sacrifices they have made via poetry and prose.

“Someone has listed the owner’s
birth and death dates in pencil
and notes how he carried it
with him all through the war.”

Poet Laura Madeline Wiseman writes in reference to her great-great-grandfather, Charles Black, in Soldier’s Bible.

Jason Willits, a University of Nebraska-Omaha graduate, served as a truck driver for the U.S. Army and was again deployed to Afghanistan to return for physical therapy. He will read an excerpt from his memoir, Drive It Like You Stole It: Coming of Age on the Roads of Iraq with the 1075th Transportation Company (10-75 is the code for a stolen vehicle). Poet Fran Higgins, also a UNO graduate, will tell of her experiences being a military wife and mother at home while her husband served abroad, many times in places unknown even to her.

Though perhaps more poignant than pleasurable, the show promises to be moving, thought provoking and most importantly, community building.

War is Trauma opens July 14 with a poetry reading at 7pm at Hot Shops Art Center. The exhibit will be on view through July 30.

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