2005-2006 Academic Year

Pitzer College Opens “Faces of the Fallen”

Exhibition features portraits of armed forces members killed in Iraq

Faces of the FallenPitzer College opened “To Never Forget: Faces of the Fallen,” Oct. 7 in the Nichols Gallery in the Edythe and Eli Broad Center. The opening event was attended by hundreds of students, staff, faculty and community members. The traveling show to date includes about 1,750 portraits of American servicemen and women who have lost their lives while serving in Iraq. The exhibition will run until Nov. 11, with a closing ceremony at 6 p.m. that Friday, Veterans’ Day.

Pitzer and the surrounding community joined together to paint more than 280 portraits to add to the exhibition. The new faces represent the work of more than 115 student, staff, faculty and local artists, and members of various art collectives. Artists of all stripes and levels of ability used a variety of mediums to represent, to the best of their abilities, the faces of those killed in the war in Iraq. It is an art show, yet so much more. What holds it together is the emotion that was poured into each portrait as the artist, and by extension, the viewer, must come face to face with a young man or woman killed in the line of duty.

“This event embodies Pitzer’s long-held values of social responsibility, community, and participation with more than 115 individuals contributing to the show,” Pitzer President Laura Skandera Trombley said. “Collective art gallery shows of this nature open Pitzer College to the wider community to engage in a dialogue where we address issues of national and international importance.”

College of Marin art instructor Chester Arnold created the project after reading a newspaper story when the U.S. death toll in Iraq reached 1,000. He did not anticipate completing all of the portraits -- but the project proved so emotionally-compelling for the artists that they couldn't rest until they had painted them all. "Perhaps ‘Faces’ can change the political debate,” Arnold said. “Instead of ‘red states vs. blue states,’ I hope that we can find common ground as we did after September 11th.”

“Faces” has tapped into a river of emotion in towns and communities across America, many of which have brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, neighbors and friends in Iraq, according to the College of Marin’s Web site. More than 100 news outlets have profiled the exhibit, including ABC-TV national news and The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, and New York Newsday. Now, every day host colleges for the exhibit receive heart-felt responses from family, friends and others around the country needing a chance to remember and reflect on our losses. Visitors have come from as far away as Tennessee to see the faces of their loved ones.

The exhibition’s opening at Pitzer was covered live Oct. 7 by Los Angeles’ KTTV Fox 11 news reporter Mary Beth McDade.

A common question: What about Iraqis, allied troops, contractors, and journalists who have died? Are they represented also? It's not practically possible to find so many pictures and do so many portraits.

Another common question: Is the exhibit a political statement? No, it's agreed by all organizers that the portraits speak for themselves.

The Nichols Gallery is open to the public, free of charge, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.