By Michael Krause for The Island Connection
In 2010, internationally renowned artist Mary Whyte set out on an inspirational seven-year mission to paint fifty large-scale watercolor portraits of current day American veterans. WE THE PEOPLE: Portraits of Veterans in America is Whyte’s remarkable series depicting military veterans of all ages and in all walks of life. Images including a Missouri dairy farmer, Rhode Island lobsterman, Pennsylvania science teacher, South Carolina single mother, and 46 other moving portraits will be showcased together – culminating in a timeless portrait of and for the American people. The exhibition opens this October in Charleston.
In conjunction with the exhibition, the Patriot Art Foundation, a non-profit organization, has been founded with the mission to honor veterans through art.
One of the foundation’s initial objectives is to help support the veterans depicted in Whyte’s paintings and have them intimately involved during the gala opening weekend of the exhibition.
Following that, the foundation is seeking donations to support both the exhibit as it travels around the country and to create a permanent WE THE PEOPLE: Portraits of Veterans in America Museum and Center in the Carolina Lowcountry. The museum will be a home for all 50 of Whyte’s portraits reflecting the diversity of this country.
Additionally, under the direction of Whyte and in partnership with certified art therapists, the Center aspires to be the premiere destination for innovative art therapy services that assist veterans who may be coping with physical or emotional issues resulting from their tours of duty.
“When I undertook this project to paint the face of America, what began as an exercise to create fifty portraits turned into an all-consuming mission to uphold and honor the hidden heroes of our country,” says Whyte. “What I discovered in my travels were an extraordinary group of men and women from all walks of life willing to serve valiantly in order to preserve the freedoms upon which this country was founded. By creating the WE THE PEOPLE exhibition and the Patriot Art Foundation I’m seeking to honor our country’s veterans through art, as well as to inspire and ignite the torch of service, freedom, justice and hope in future generations.”
The mission of the Patriot Art Foundation is to seek a better world for our veterans through initiatives in art, history, education, leadership and imagination. The Foundation is organizing a working board of veterans, military leaders, business leaders, educators and artists. Partner organizations currently include The Citadel, the University of South Carolina Press and the Charleston Symphony Orchestra.
The Patriot Art Foundation is a 501 (c) (3) whose mission is to honor and serve veterans through art and educational initiatives. More information at PatriotArtFoundation.org.