About Eric Sanders
The artwork around the gallery is from Georgia Southern student and veteran, Eric Sanders. Eric Sanders is an MFA Candidate at Georgia Southern University and in his 7th year with the U.S. Army. His Thesis work focuses on highlighting veteran issues while also showcasing the cathartic potential of creativity for the veteran community. For his personal work, he enjoys both traditional and digital media and has a particular passion for wildlife and natural illustration.
It has been nineteen years since the first shot of the Global War on Terror, the longest conflict in the history of the United States. Despite counter-terrorism efforts around the world, more Service Members have died in the silent war on the Homefront. Suicide is an epidemic that is currently the second-leading cause of death for Service Members – far surpassing hostile actions across two decades and multiple theaters of operations. Service-related hardships, inability to reintegrate back into the civilian sector, and Post-Traumatic Stress are leading factors that contribute to this persistent loss.
Cathexis: it is this hyper-fixation on moments of trauma, loss, or life obstacles that creates a mental position of despair. Many Veterans believe, however erroneous, that there is a stigma in seeking help, or that it is a lost cause due to lack of faith in institutions and programs available, or even that it is antithetical the Warrior Ethos on personal strength. The Cathexis series is focused on bringing attention to this problem. Monsters, much like Post-Traumatic Stress and unseen scars borne from service, are discounted as imagined flights of fancy until they manifest and invade a space. The monsters of Post-Traumatic Stress are there, overt or subtle, and need to be believed in.
Catharsis: it is this emotional release that provides outlet to the tension, the stress, and the despair of Cathexis. The Catharsis series illustrates my experience working with Veterans who have an overwhelming tendency to believe artistic creativity is somehow inaccessible. By bringing together Veterans and exposing them to traditional and non-traditional techniques, I have found that defensive stance is reduced, and they become more receptive to what art can be – and more importantly, what art can do. Expression is a valve for Catharsis, strengthened by the reinstatement of camaraderie for those who have worn the uniform.
There is a pervading issue, one of urgency that requires action. That action can only be available with awareness. While the Veteran suicide rate is rightfully alarming, hope is not absent. Art provides optimism, positivity, and a means to encourage community support from both within and without to help stymy the flow of tragedy among military personnel. Art reveals Cathexis. Art reveals Catharsis.
TAKE A LOOK
This represents a 3D print of a veteran learning about 3D modeling and printing process
This represents a monster manifestation included in spent brass ammunition, emphasizing some of the surreal issues and problems that can materialize out of the demands of military service.
This represents a bayonet infused with the iconography of a monster, revealing the danger inherent in weaponry not only to the receiver but for the user.