Photography is a powerful tool. It can express the deepest feelings of a human being in ways that words cannot. Photographs then are a tool to convey messages that can describe how humans perceive freedom. The photo essay by Devin Mitchell is an example of this use of photography.
|Photo by Devin Mitchell|
On August 8th, 2014 the student and photographer Devin Mitchell began traveling the west coast in search of veteran stories in hopes of illustrating these individuals through the art of pictures. The Veteran Vision Project is a photo documentary featuring authentic military service members and their lives. His unique portraits are double-sided visual stories that portray on one side the military life of the veteran and on the other, their routine normal life, the veteran’s loved ones, or his/her true self or personal problems. The exhibition features veterans and active duty service members from UCM and surrounding communities. Mitchell wants to photograph 10,000 veterans to finish his project.
This essay is privately funded and organized by the photographer. The mission of the project is to help veterans heal by providing them with a voice. In several interviews, Devin Mitchell has said, “the pictures spread awareness about the veteran community and the challenges they face during reintegration to society.”
In mid-September of this year, Devin Mitchell traveled from his home in Los Angeles, CA to Warrensburg MO to make all but four of the images in the exhibition. To be considered for participation, service members and veterans were required to fit into their service uniform and be clean shaved in uniform for their reflection photo. The Veteran Vision Project has been featured in numerous media outlets including The Washington Post, CBS This Morning, Fox & Friends, and Buzzfeed.
|Behind the scenes of John Mitchel photoshoot|
at the Veterans Home in Warrensburg, MO.
Photo by Christian Cutler
The UCM Gallery of Art & Design is Mitchell’s first gallery exhibition of the work. A book of 350 curated images from his first year of photographing subjects for the Veteran Vision Project is scheduled to be released in early 2016.
|Veterans and students at the gallery with their portraits|
Photo by Christian Cutler and
According to Devin Mitchell, he never anticipated that the project would grow this much after a couple of months since its creation. Social Media helped to spread the word of this project as well as veterans’ friends and family. He mentioned that he hopes that the project is transparent in its message to heal and show what is really happening in the veteran community and not propagandistic. “I want the project to be an open window.”
View his work, pre-order his book, and register to participate in the project at VeteranVisionProject.com.
The exhibition is currently on view until November 12th, 2015.
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by Christian Cutler and Katherine Urquijo