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Artwork exhibition tells soldier’s stories

Courtesy National Constitution Center

PHILADELPHIA — The National Constitution Center will present “Art of the American Soldier,” the world debut of a collection of artwork by U.S. military personnel, beginning Sept. 24.

More than 15,000 paintings and sketches created by over 1,300 American soldiers in the line of duty have been in curatorial storage in Washington, D.C., for decades, seldom made available for public viewing. Selections from among these works will be presented as a collection in the exhibit, which was created by the Constitution Center in partnership with the U.S. Army Center of Military History and the National Museum of the U.S. Army.

The U.S. Army’s art program began during World War I and continued during World War II, resulting in the creation of over 2,000 pieces of art. Later, artwork from the wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan was added to the collection.

Covering more than 6,000 square feet and featuring more than 250 works of art in a variety of media, the exhibition is arranged in five sections: Introduction, A Soldier’s Life, A Soldier’s Duty, a Soldier’s Sacrifice and The American Soldier. The images will reflect both daily life in camp and scenes of engagement from World War I to the present.

“Though this visual record is familiar to few, it is no less powerful in its ability to convey and evoke the human experience of military conflict,” said David Eisner, president and CEO of the National Constitution Center. “These firsthand expressions of the realities of war uniquely and vividly trace the lives of the brave men and women who have answered the Constitution’s call to ‘provide for the common defense.’”

Visitors to the Constitution Center can supplement their experience with an audio presentation of oral histories from servicemen on an iPod tour. The center is also presenting a special theatrical program, “Through Their Eyes,” in conjunction with the exhibit.

“Art of the American Soldier” runs at the National Constitution Center from Sept. 24 through Jan. 10. After that, the exhibition will begin a nationwide tour of other museums.