Remembering & Remembering the Fallen, a look back
I made two life size outdoor statues that are similar to each other in pose and feeling, but they are two different sculptures. Remembering and Remembering the Fallen. While they are both US Marines kneeling and remembering, there are two differences that I feel compelled to write about.
Remembering is a kneeling soldier from the war on terror and is supposed to represent a modern day soldier. He was the first US Marine I sculpted and he was made a few years before Remembering the Fallen. The life size sculpture was modeled after a friend, a US Marine who served at the start of the war in Afghanistan.
The Marine is kneeling holding his combat helmet in his right arm and his left hand raised up against a wall. It could be any wall; a concrete wall that was blasted from an attack or a wall symbolizing remembrance. He was designed to be remembering a fallen brother. Over the years, however, the meaning of this sculpture has grown a little deeper. I’ve reimagined him as remembering more than a soldier. Instead, perhaps he is remembering the sacrifices he and others make for the sake of freedom. Or perhaps it is the collateral loss or the price of war. Memories stay with us especially traumatic ones.
Remembering the Fallen, which is the second version in my Remembering “series”, was sculpted in 2017. This modern day soldier is not clutching his helmet or with his hand raised to a wall, but instead he is holding a folded flag. A ceremonial folded flag.
When I first made this sculpture my thought was would an active-duty soldier really be carrying a folded flag to combat? Initially, this question persisted in my head. But, I decided, after internal debating, if he recently lost a family member in war he might carry one.
This soldier is in a different emotional loss than the first Remembering. He takes the loss deeper. Deep enough to carry the most important memory he now has of his brother or sister, to the most dangerous locations on earth. To honor and to hold someone close one last time.
The meaning behind this newer sculpture seems to have transformed my thoughts on the previous sculpture. It’s weird how that happens.
When I first posted Remembering the Fallen on social media, it went something near viral. Well, as viral as my own sculptures had ever gotten at that point. It had hundreds of shares in a matter of days. It was impressive. I immediately started getting emails, private messages and phone calls from people who fell in love with it. They were from all over the country and what a surprise it was!
Meaning of an artwork can change, but the artwork itself doesn’t
It is interesting how time changes our views on something. It changes our views on life, on family, things we cherish or don’t cherish. We may have hated some of our teachers when we were in school but now we see their good side. But to stay on track, views on art change as well even though the artwork doesn’t. In the case of Remembering vs. Remembering the Fallen, I think that because I had created a similar mood and pose with the second sculpture that it changed my views on the first sculpture.
I have admired and continue to admire many works of art, especially through social media which makes it easy to study someones artwork. Some artwork seem to have meaning or feeling that changes with time. Perhaps morphing into something else. I imagine the Mona Lisa and the Thinker are the best examples. Right out of the womb they weren’t seen as icons or symbols of painting or sculpture that they are now. But at some point after their creation they became so.
An artworks feeling/energy/meaning/depth etc changes with time. But all artwork doesn’t change on the same level. Some probably don’t change at all. And that is what is fascinating to me. What makes artwork stand the test of time? Why, for example, have Thomas Kinkade paintings, which were once highly sought after, been looked down upon in the last twenty or so years?
As I approach half a century on our planet I can see the importance of art and why it is so valued. Some might say art is even more valued today with social media and the broader audience artists can get. Art changes us and gives us a place to put our thoughts and emotions. Art can be our worst enemy one day and our best friend the next. While the artwork itself doesn’t change, maybe we do.