VETERANS PORTRAITS

The Veterans Portraits/Self-Portraits Project was commissioned by the Palo Alto Art Center for an inaugural re-opening exhibition that paired ten contemporary artists with community members to create artworks which would directly engage and reflect public interests. Thomas chose to work with local veterans in a deliberate effort to cross sociopolitical party lines: by directly engaging with members of a more conservative demographic, she sought both to facilitate a mutual respect and to challenge her own assumptions and beliefs. The artist met with support organizations including the American Legion, Next Step Veterans Resource Center, and North Bay Veterans Resource Center, interviewing and photographing veterans who work to provide resources to other veterans in need. The veterans’ own handwritten responses to a series of introspective questions introduced an element of self-portraiture to the final works, which combined Thomas’s drawings with text and military-era photographs.