Face to Face
November 11, 2011 – February 5, 2012
On view in the Malcolm Forbes Theater
Presented by the Art Options Foundation, Face to Face is a cultural and visual arts project centered on the sculpting of more than 100 life-size busts of men and women who served in World War II. This collaboration is the work of artists Claire Hanzakos, Kaija Keel and Jilda Schwartz. The National WWII Museum in New Orleans will display a selection of 30 of these sculptured busts from November 11, 2011 to February 5, 2012.
Veterans of World War II were part of a defining era in history. Many are still very much alive, but to younger generations, that war seems far in the past and difficult to comprehend. The artists began by asking friends who were vets to sit for them, to share wartime photographs and to recount stories.
Many were hesitant at first. They weren’t heroes, they said, just ordinary soldiers doing their duty. Would the artists be disappointed if they didn’t tell stories of great courage and daring? Some feared they would have to relive painful memories. Nevertheless they came, bringing photographs, scrapbooks, letters, postcards and memories. In turn, they put the artists in touch with additional friends and acquaintances, and as the sculptors gathered more and more subjects, the scope of the project grew.
The artists soon found the rhythm for their work. The veterans arrived in threes, and each sculptor paired off with one of them in the studio. In a three-hour session, a rough portrait in clay was made, then the subject was photographed from multiple angles. These photographs were subsequently used to finish the busts.
In creating the sculptures the artists found faces of character and wisdom, each as distinct as a thumbprint. These are not statues of soldiers on pedestals, holding guns and raising the flag of war. They are people we see every day on our streets, in restaurants, at the local market. The portraits and documents make clear that World War II is still with us. Seeing these faces and hearing their stories gives form and substance to this crucial part of our common history.
Included in the exhibition are busts of Arnold and Irvin Spielberg, father and uncle of filmmaker Steven Spielberg.
For more information, visit www.artoptionsfoundation.org.