From 2003 until 2013, artist Steve Mumford travelled to war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as to the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, to create artworks documenting the experiences of American troops, civilians caught in the conflict, and prisoners being held at Guantanamo. In an effort to understand the nature of war from a variety of perspectives, Mumford captured what he calls “the spaces in between,” the long periods between combat in which soldiers and civilians strive to maintain a feeling of normalcy and community-building in the face of pending trauma. The resulting watercolors, sketches and paintings offer unflinching depictions of the extremity of sacrifices made-willingly and unwillingly-in the name of national ideology.
With little more than art supplies and a press pass from artnet.com-which allowed access to restricted areas and proximity to troops-Mumford first entered Iraq from Kuwait on April 15, 2003, approximately one week after Baghdad had fallen to American forces. Mumford stayed for five weeks on his first trip, and returned often over the next eight years, creating in-depth journals of his travels. Some of these writings, sketches, and watercolors, known as “Baghdad Journal,” were presented in installments through artnet.com.
Steve Mumford’s War Journals, 2003-2013 is organized by the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville.
This exhibition contains graphic depictions of war and may not be suitable for all audiences.