The Carlsten Art Gallery is displaying The Veteran Print Project, a collaborative exhibit between University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point student artists and veterans.
Art students from professor Robert Erickson’s spring printmaking class worked with veterans from the First-Year Seminar “Back from the Front: Transition from the Military to Civilian Life” to create pieces for the exhibit.
“It’s a conversation both for the veterans, where they can have their stories be told, but it is also for the art students because many of them, while they may know some veterans, have never actually talked to a veteran about their experiences,” Erickson said.
The FYS course, taught by assistant history lecturer David Chrisinger, is specifically for veterans and focuses on helping acclimate them to campus life and be successful in college. Chrisinger said he had the idea to have students work with artists early on.
“I approached Professor Erickson over winter break last year with this idea, and he was on board right away,” Chrisinger said.
The Veteran Print Project is a Wisconsin-based organization founded by veteran Yvette Pino. Chrisinger met her three years ago and was inspired by the organization. Once he began teaching the course, he thought it was a great opportunity to incorporate The Veteran Print Project at UWSP.
Each veteran from the class was paired with an art student whom they exchanged stories of their time in the military. The printmaking students then recreated the stories in each design they made.
“They were not only testifying to their story but bearing witness to it. There’s something very profound about having experiences filtered through someone else’s lens,” Chrisinger said.
The collaboration is beneficial for the student artists and veterans, Chrisinger said, by making the veterans feel a sense of belonging on campus and giving the artists a new perspective on military life.
“It was a very interesting project for me to do. I found that once I applied my method of printmaking to the story, the image unfolded,” said Emily Kuchenbecker, printmaking student.
The Veteran Print Project has been on display throughout the summer and will continue to be until Sept. 14. A closing reception for the exhibit will take place the same day at 4 p.m. and is open to the public.
“I think one of the more rewarding ideas is to see the art students grow. To see them grow like that and to understand something, is incredibly rewarding. It just broadened their world,” Erickson said.
The Carlsten Gallery, located inside the Noel Fine Arts Center, is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 1-4 p.m. Prints are also on display in the Kenosha Public Museum and Edgewood College in Madison.