William Betcher

Wearing their wounds like stars

Artist Statement

Why were these broken toy soldiers from the 1930’s and 60’s not thrown away? Because they must have been important to the boys who played with and damaged them. And because they have stories to tell. The 3” tall metal toys originally were mass produced, but each soldier has become unique, humanized by scars inflicted by boys in rough play or with BB guns, rocks, or lit airplane glue.

Consider the boys and the men they became as implicitly present in these portraits and dioramas. So I invite you to reflect on war trauma and on how play mirrors and prepares for adult experience. Both long ago, and now.

My purpose is not to glorify but to question, evoke, and to memorialize by merging the child and adult perspectives. As the Civil War soldier and jurist, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., said on Memorial Day, 1897, “The army of the dead sweep before us, wearing their wounds like stars.”

 

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