No excerpt from Carol Kino’s excellent New York Times story on the Marine Corps art program will do the story justice. So read it here. In the meantime, while you’re digesting the news that the Marines have a museum with 8,000 paintings, drawings and sculpture from as early as 1825, read this:
“The Marine Corps is more like a tribe than some corporate organization,” Mr. Fay said. “And the combat art program, we’re like the shamans. We’re the ones who take this experience and try to articulate it.”
In the Quantico warehouse, which serves as Sergeant Battles’s studio, the two men were surrounded by the sergeant’s most recent work. […] Many of the paintings explore the Marine experience from a disarmingly humanistic perspective: a boy perching in a leafy tree near Carrefour, Haiti, where Sergeant Battles deployed last February to cover humanitarian relief efforts; Marines snoozing by piles of body armor in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, in 2009. A painting from his 2007 Iraq tour presents a half-smiling woman carrying a toddler, a luminous, enigmatic image that brings the Belgian artist Luc Tuymans to mind.
One thing that sets the Marine Corps program apart from those of other services is its focus on human subjects and experiences. That’s what has always appealed to Anita Blair, chief strategist at the National Security Professional Development Integration Office, who got to know the program when she was acting assistant secretary of the Navy for a year (2008-09). “When you go over to the Air Force,” she said, “the art is all airplanes. In the Navy it’s all ships. Army art tends to be more about the battle, and the Army loves trucks. They’re fixated on vehicles. But the Marine Corps is fixated on Marines.”
With Sketchpads and Guns, Semper Fi (New York Times)