The following was written by Trent Thursby Alvey in regards to her exhibition Paintings and Assemblages on exhibit at the Salt Lake Main Library from Feb 25 through March 31.
My experience exhibiting at the library became an opportunity for self-discovery. The reasons for creating art vary for different artists, but during my library exhibit, it became clear that extending my interaction with people outside my immediate circle, friends, supporters and art community is really important to me. This exhibit was a strong antiwar statement for me. I didn’t know how it would be received in the art community. But it became a magnet for a disenfranchised group of war veterans, one in particular named Trudell
Paul Braudeau (see photo), a Lakota Navy Seal who had completed two tours in Iraq. Shortly after installing my paintings and assemblage pieces, Trudell was drawn into the space from a glimpse of a helmet and the icon stencil of an AK47 on one of the paintings. He went right up to the painting and said, “Yep, an Ak.” From that day we became friends. One day he brought me a blanket that he’d found. It looked like a blanket that you’d find draped over granny’s rocking chair, not like a gift from a tatted-up brother with a long black ponytail, who could do 15 one-arm pushups; but the message woven on the blanket is timeless.
Our Family is a circle
of strength and love,
With every birth and every
union, the circle grows.
Every joy shared adds more
love. Every crisis faced
together makes the
Trudell asked me if I understood the circle. He said when he and his brothers meet they circle up, which is exactly what they did in the exhibit. Trudell called me one day to ask me to come down to the library. He said that he and his vet buddies were having a ceremony in my exhibit space, using the helmet (part of my assemblage) as the receptacle for burning sage. He told me his buddies sat around the alter for a long time in silence recalling memories of war then started singing and then, finally laughing. When I arrived Trudell was asleep in a chair adjacent to the gallery and his buddies were gone. I noticed that two of the 25 caliber shells were gone from my Flags of War and Peace assemblage.
The message that Trudell brought to me was a reinterpretation of the intent of my exhibit. My original message was about the restorative and destructive cycles that we humans continually cycle through: war brutality, greed, redemption, purification and rebirth. My exhibit asks the unanswered question, will we ever transcend this cyclical existence? But, I believe that Trudell has wisdom to share, I think that he was helping me to understand that the circle itself transcends what we do on a daily, yearly, lifetime, generational basis in peace or in war. The circle is the transcendence. Understanding that you are a part of the circle is your own enlightenment; whatever you do from there is perfect.
I want to thank the library staff, Hickmet Lowe, Camille Shubert and especially Howard Brough for being so very supportive of my work. The library was an excellent venue to voice my political, moral and spiritual statement about war and brutality. Thanks again to Howard for all of his hard work and support for the exhibit as well as helping me with the logistics of the butoh performance. The library is a haven for a cross section of humanity and I appreciate the extended audience.
The founder of Artists of Utah and editor of its online magazine, 15 Bytes, Shawn Rossiter has undergraduate degrees in English, French and Italian Literature and studied Comparative Literature in graduate school before pursuing a career in art.