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Gallery 101 presents expressive veterans art exhibition

February 25, 2015

Through March 4, in Gallery 101 in the Kleinpell Fine Arts building, the UW-River Falls art department and UWRF Veteran Services office is presenting the “Veterans, Active Duty and Reserves Art Exhibition.”

The exhibition features 22 pieces of art from six different artists. Art student veterans Mike Vance, Harley Hotchkiss and Katie Powell organized the exhibition along with having art pieces of their own in the exhibition.

Vance is a senior at UWRF majoring in photography, and is currently serving in the Minnesota National Guard. He brought five different photographs and an edition of woodblock prints to the show.

“They are all images I made while I was on deployment to Afghanistan in 2012 with my unit,” Vance said. “They are all photos basically describing what life with a Medevac unit is like. What we are actually out doing, on a call, picking up a wounded soldier.”

The powerful images show a multitude of things from. One is shot from inside the cockpit of a Black Hawk helicopter looking out at another helicopter. Two more show one of Vance’s colleagues connected to a rescue hoist about to be lowered to the ground to retrieve a patient.

During his deployment to Afghanistan, Vance took over 2,000 photographs. He said it was hard narrowing down his collection to the five that are currently hanging in Gallery 101.

“These images I thought explained the best things I saw, and the things I did during my deployment to Afghanistan, so that’s why I chose these images,” Vance said.

Art has long been a major interest for Vance.

“I’ve always been interested in art. In high school, in my barn, I did graffiti spray-painting, I was terrible at it,” Vance said. “I always walked around with a crappy digital camera in high school taking pictures of different street art I’d find, and from there it led to actually making images of things that weren’t street art and that’s what kind of led me to photography.”

Fellow student coordinator, Hotchkiss, has also long been interested in art. Hotchkiss said he always liked to draw when he was younger and pointed out his obvious love of art with the tattoos that were on his arms.

Hotchkiss is a senior majoring in glassblowing. Hotchkiss is currently in his 15th year in the military and is currently with the Wisconsin National Guard.

Hotchkiss supplied examples of his glassblowing, photography and more to the exhibition. His photos have a very special theme.

“The photo series, it just started with veterans in general and then I took it a step further and I wanted to find someone who had lost a limb and difficulties; fellow veterans that’ve had more troubles or harder times than I had overseas,” Hotchkiss said.

Both Vance and Hotchkiss made it clear how they feel about the relationship between UWRF and veterans. Both said that the campus community greatly supports veterans.

Twenty percent of the proceeds of any sales of the artwork will be donated to the Veteran Services office at UWRF and 80 percent will remain with the artist.

The exhibition is open to the public from 1-8 p.m. on Monday through Friday, and 2-4 p.m. on Sunday.