War Stories I Never Heard explores the impact of discovering a loved one’s World War II military stories after his death, and the longing for deeper personal connection with him after he is gone.
My grandfather Raymond Bradley was just 21 years old when he was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1943 to fight Hitler’s Nazi regime that was taking over the world. Hitler had been trying to create a superior race by killing the “unfit,” including Jews, the physically/mentally handicapped, and homosexuals. I am gay and I recently discovered a small percentage of my ancestry is Ashkenazi Jewish. Had I been living in 1944, my life would have been in danger; my grandfather was fighting for me 75 years ago without his knowing it.
My parents divorced in 1976 when I was 7. Up until then, I had a great relationship with my grandfather. After the divorce, I only saw him a few times, once shortly before he passed in 2008 at 85 years old. That was a terrific visit. Grandpa never talked about the war, however I do remember him taking me into his garage to show me his gun from the Army. I was 7-ish and gay. I wanted nothing of it. Today, I would give anything to have that day back to talk about the Second World War with him.
After he passed, I was given a small box of photographs and mementos of my Grandpa Ray. I knew he had fought in Normandy, but it never registered as anything important. But all of a sudden, holding his stripes and medals in my hands, I needed to know about his time in battle.
I began to research where he was the morning of June 6, 1944, D-Day, and what his Army mission was on that infamous day. I wanted to know about the amphibious engineer badges included with his things. First I asked my family, but no one knew anything beyond that he was a cook. Although my cousin Chris had been told by Ray himself that he was a trained sharpshooter, he also thought Grandpa might have been pulling his leg.
After asking my family, I turned to the Army for information. Being a cook was not to be discounted as a lesser role, I was told by an Army veteran and World War II historian. The Army Amphibious Engineer units worked as a team to complete their mission. Grandpa had to learn every aspect of being an amphibious engineer in the 6th Engineer Special Brigade so that if everyone else in his unit was killed, even the cook could complete the mission. In the case of my grandfather, the mission was delivering ammunition to the front line.
Due to the limitednumber of photos from D-Day and bits of information written on the backs of photos he saved. I created dioramas to fill in the gaps and recreate scenes from photographs my grandpa had kept.I tell about his time serving in the Army during WWII through still-life arrangements of memorabilia, photo collages, and our genetic DNA codes, which symbolize our family lineage. I establish a timeline from his arrival in England for training—leaving his newly pregnant wife, Mary Louise, back home in Wayne, Michigan—and his time quartering with a wealthy family, the Firths, who are threaded through the story. I follow him as he serves at Omaha Beach in Normandy, France, on D-Day, his life at camp, and finally his discharge and return to Mary Louise and his baby, Bonnie, in the United States. I include what happens after and how, nine months later, my father was born, and three years later, my Uncle Dale.
Project facts: • Omaha Beach diorama size—2 feet x 2 feet. • Diorama scale—1:87 (plus other scale sizes for depth) Omaha Beach for the war shots. • Seventy-five hand-painted men are used to mark the D-Day 75th anniversary in 2019. • I pay homage to photographers Robert Cappa and Robert Sargent by recreating tableaus of their original photographs in my Omaha Beach diorama.
• I had vehicles 3-D printed if I could not find an available model to build. • I bought type-C WWII rations that contained Camel cigarettes, the brand my grandfather smoked in 1944.
• In the shrapnel still life, I pricked my fingers for the blood to represent the thousands of young men lost. • The sand in the shrapnel image is from Omaha Beach in Normandy. • The DNA codes, replacing my grandfather in some of the images, are the Y-chromosome code that I share with my grandfather, dad, and Uncle Dale.
War Stories I Never Heard- Amphibious Engineer
War Stories I Never Heard
Amphibious Engineer teaser
War Stories I Never Heard- Love Together
A Brief History of WW2, Omaha Beach
A short companion film to War Stories I Never Heard giving a brief history of D-Day
Portrait- Mary Louise's Gaze
Gay and Jewish
Monkey Tail Tree
The Silverware Set, Thomas Firth and Sons
Ships Poised in the English Channel
Rommel's Men, Axis Power
Tribute to Cappa- Soldier in the Surf
Tribute to Sargent- Into the Jaws of Death
The Mission-967th QMSC 6thESB
Fitting the Beach-Amphibious Engineers
Blood, Sand and Metal Shrapnel
Kids Come to Eat- Mess Hall
The Photographer Fellow
Going Back to Civilian Life
Ray Looks Grand
Full Surrender- War Type
Badges and Metals
Y-Chromosome -Building Family
1998 was the year J.K. Rowling introduced the world to Harry Potter and the infamous scene of passing through a brick wall on train platform 9 ¾ into a parallel world of wizardry. Newton, Einstein and Erwin Schroedinger, all wrote about the theory of a parallel universe years ago. Stephen Hawking has written in detail of how there are multitudes of our universe, our space and time existing simultaneously.
It has been said that we pass through these planes through portals; wormholes that allow matter to flow freely through to another existence in the same but different world. Bending Time is about showing these portals within our current environment. These portals of Quantum physics are not physical destinations for us to visit, but are shown to contemplate how do our decisions affect us, by crossing space and time to fulfill a desired thought if it was carried out differently.
The State of America
The American dream as we once knew it is dead. Besides the constant threat of war from North Korea, the US is still racially divided 53 years after the Civil Rights Act was passed. There is a major culture shift happening in our nation with women and men exposing sexual misconduct in the workforce. The Education system is flawed in that students are taught solely how to fit into corporate America as cogs in the machine. Americans are not learning about their rights as citizens. Just as facts are dismissed as fake news and have herded the people of America into a dumbing down of our society. These things and others have caused our role as a super power within the world to change.
Fifty-three years after the Civil rights act was passed there are racial riots happening in the streets of the United States of America. We have watched far too many dash-cam or body-cam videos of police officers using excessive force on dark skinned individuals that ended in the worse possible outcome.
Stemming from the #me_too movement, women and men have come forward to expose how prevalent sexual misconduct has been in the workplace. Since that, allegations of sexual misconduct have hit almost every industry, including 15 women who have accused the president of misconduct over a 20-year period.
We as a society have had our basic logic turned upside down by the term of “fake news.” If a story doesn’t fit the agenda of the subject, a quick denial and label of fake news is all that is necessary to stop the story from gaining traction in the media outlets. Thus making society question it’s own level of knowledge. Individual thoughts and creativity are not encouraged. And in turn, kids are being prepped to be cogs in the machine of corporate America. Americans do not know their rights. Civics is not taught in most schools anymore and people are not aware of how the government works around them.
The United States of America is suffering at its core. For many, the state of our country is measured on how well we live out the American dream. But what is the American dream anymore? For many it was a time when white males could prey on young women for sexual pleasure. Or was it a time when lunch counters were separated by the color of your skin? Was America great when our education system ranked top in every subject or when we placed at the bottom as recently polled? Was America great when space exploration was at the forefront of our growth? Or are we better off with a large segment of society believing the Earth is flat? Before the US can be the superpower it once was, we must come together to build up the core structure of our society and strive to treat each other better and learn about our government in order to overcome the deliberate oppression of its people.
Search and Seizure
Separating Migrant Children
The Border Wall Divide.
Losing my Religion
The Unwanted Visit
Silence = Death
Americans Unaware of our Rights
The Religious Divide
Taking the 5th
"America Doesn't Torture"
Obesity in America
The Protectors of Magical Seeds
The Protectors of Magical Seeds
“It always amazes me to look at the little, wrinkled brown seeds and think of the rainbows in ’em,” said Captain Jim. “When I ponder on them seeds I don’t find it nowise hard to believe that we’ve got souls that’ll live in other worlds. You couldn’t hardly believe there was life in them tiny things, some no bigger than grains of dust, let alone colour and scent, if you hadn’t seen the miracle, could you?”
― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables series
The pods are the great protectors of the magic they possess inside ... the seed. Seeds that hold the DNA blueprint for the entire life of the plant. Its whole life! That is magical. Before the seeds release from the withered shell, the pod holds them tight, protecting them from the elements while they develop. Then, when all the precise conditions come together, the ideal amount of warmth, water, light, and nutrient-rich soil, the tiny seeds will release, germinate, and grow. The pod decomposes, feeding the seed, and the circle of life continues.
Using Stephen Shore’s concept of still time where “the content is at rest and time is still,” I am preserving that particular moment of the decay process, where the pods have just released these magic seeds. This is when the pods reveal their true strength, hardness and valor. Sometimes they are sinister shapes akin to medieval torture devices. In front of my lens, they become whimsical guardians, the protectors of magical seeds.
Miniature scale model figures were what I turned to when embarking on a project to explore my child-like mind and not be so serious all the time, to expand exploratory thoughts within my imagination. Studies have found that being serious all the time will lead to being less productive, influence your ability to bond with other people, missed opportunities and just missing out on life.
The Bug-Transport project is about the viewing things differently. By nurturing my adventurous imagination, draw outside the lines per say and just see were it goes. It’s about adding a bit of fantasy into my reality. It’s about lightening my load. It’s about being playful, and happy. And not being so serious all the time. It is based on the silly thought of; What if bugs were the size of livestock and we road them around for transportation?
1:87 scale models were used in place of real people to further the playful aspect and create ambiguity within the narrative. Real bugs were used to add to the adventure. They give a new perspective to the viewer by magnifying the detail of these amazing creatures to study up close without fear.
The homes in my neighborhood date back one hundred years or more. As with any home, things need replacing on a regular basis. The plaster ceiling in our spare bedroom started to come loose and needed to be replaced. Upon removing the ceiling I found amongst the debris a rat skeleton, an abandoned beehive, and lots of nails. I drew upon these found objects and other things found on my property for a still life study called Urban Archaeology.
Urban Archaeology is about little treasures forgotten and found over the years in ones own home. Sometimes someone finds a Picasso hidden away in the attic and sometimes it’s rat bones. This set of bones I found intriguing not only because the leg and tail were fully intact, but moreover because I shared my home with it and also a large hive of bees at some point and didn’t know.
My husband and I were held captive “visiting” a rich German friend, on his dime, at his beautiful compound on the Côte d’Azur, France. My dreams of visiting French perfumeries’ flower fields in Grasse were replaced by speedy car rides through side streets of Cannes. The travel photos I envisioned would become a story about viewing places of interest through the backseat window of a sport SUV. I wondered if this is the way a large portion of tourists actually see these highlights, peering out a window? My friend wouldn’t stop the car for a photograph, sometimes the window wouldn’t be allowed down, as he was afraid I’d let the cold air-conditioning air out. I remember many family vacations that were rushed to get to the next destination without being able to enjoy the sight itself. How often do relaxing road trips become mentally tense or worse, end the relationship?