Amani My Culture: A Visual Analysis by Jennifer Clifford

Amani My Culture by Donna Perdue is one of the many highlights in the Stamp Gallery’s current exhibition Selections from Combat Paper. The Combat Paper program provides art-making workshops to veterans to reconcile their times in war. They cut up their fatigues to create paper and then express their experiences through painting and printing.

Donna Perdue was a Marine stationed in Africa during her service. This artwork is taken from a photograph she took of a refugee she came across. The work focuses in on the top portion of the refugee’s face. The viewer sees a set of eyes amongst the swirl of black and white. The eyes are striking and they leave the viewer questioning what the refugee is thinking and feeling. How does it feel to be in a refugee camp, miles away from home? The viewer is allowed to come up with their interpretation.

The use of a two-dimensional surface forces a barrier between the viewer and the artwork. Yet, Perdue attaches a piece of head jewelry to the paper. This piece of jewelry brings the refugee out in the viewer’s space. She is real and present. This presence makes the refugee’s story real and brings an awareness of the plights of refugees around the world. In the United States, we tend to forget how lucky we are that we do not live in a state of political turmoil.

We have our current state due to the work of these veterans. During the month of November, the Stamp Gallery has the show Selections from Combat Paper to recognize the veterans and their experiences. The exhibit not only demonstrates what the veterans went through to keep this country safe, but again to recognize that other parts of the world are not so fortunate as us to have a democratic country and a military to protect us.

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