Combat photographer Stacy Pearsall visits campus March 24-28
Stacy Pearsall, a decorated Air Force veteran and former military photographer who captured images during four combat tours, will be an artist-in-residence at Maryville College March 24-28.
Her exhibit of photography, entitled “Shooter,” is currently on display in the Blackberry Farm Gallery of the Clayton Center for the Arts. These dramatic images from her time in Baqubah, Iraq, will be available for viewing at the College through March 28.
The exhibit is free and open to the public. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.
Award-winning work details ‘monotony of war’
Pearsall, who is medically retired due to combat injuries, owns Suite D Studios in Charleston, S.C., and is founder of the Veterans Portrait Project, a national campaign to document veterans from every generation and branch of service. The project documents military veterans through still black and white still photography, motion picture, audio recording and written word. The Veterans Portrait Project is also a public education movement that provides communities with visual, audible and written accounts of veterans nationwide.
Her work in “Shooter” demonstrates sharp framing and selective focus, which pulls the viewer into the details of the monotony of war, interrupted intermittently by harrowing action.
“When I was a combat photographer, I tried to look past the action and into the daily lives of the soldiers,” she said. “I shared their moments of bereavement and despair as well as triumph and compassion. Most people look upon U.S. military personnel as being somewhat invincible – I wanted to remind them of the contrary. They’re someone’s sons, fathers, daughters and mothers.”
She added: “Documenting war has taught me humanity. I don’t hold on to the material aspects of living as I once did. Now I focus my efforts on the needs of life I can impact.”
Pearsall’s awards included being named Air Force Veteran of the Year and White House Champion of Change. She has received wide public exposure for her work, including an interview on The Oprah Winfrey Show and CNN and publication in Newsweek and the New York Times.
She has earned the Bronze Star Medal and Air Force Commendation with Valor for heroic actions under fire.
Pearsall is the author of the books Shooter: Combat from Behind the Camera and A Photojournalist’s Field Guide: In the Trenches with Stacy Pearsall.
Public invited to presentations
The public is invited to meet Pearsall during a presentation on Tues., March 25 and an artist’s reception on Fri., March 28, held in conjunction with the Maryville Arts Coalition’s Last Friday Art Walk.
The March 25 event will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Clayton Center for the Arts’ Harold and Jean Lambert Recital Hall, located adjacent to the gallery. The artist’s reception is scheduled for 6-7 p.m. in the Blackberry Farm Gallery.
Event for veterans set for March 26
Maryville College’s Student Veteran Association (SVA) is sponsoring a separate presentation by Pearsall on Wed., March 26 that will be open to veterans, their families and prospective Maryville College students who have military ties.
At 5 p.m., veterans are invited to come to the Clayton Center for the Arts’ Building B (smaller building) and have their photo taken for Pearsall’s Veterans Portrait Project.
At 6 p.m. in the Lambert Recital Hall of the Clayton Center, Dean of Students Vandy Kemp and MC SVA President Sean Hagstrom will give a brief presentation on Maryville College’s participation in the “Got Your Six” initiative and the College’s new SVA. Pearsall will then take the stage to discuss her work as a combat photographer and the Veterans Portrait Project.
Pearsall will advise students
As the College’s artist-in-residence, Pearsall will provide a professional critique of student art, photography and design work. She will lend her interdisciplinary expertise in military policy and post-traumatic stress disorder to students of other fields.
“Students will gain a truly unique opportunity to have a professional, award-winning photographer critique their work and learn best practices and tips within the fields of photography and photojournalism,” said Adrienne Schwarte, associate professor of design at the College and coordinator for the College’s artist-in-residence program. “They will gain an understanding of how to craft a body of work that informs the public, captivates and engages audiences towards social action, communicates understanding, informs policy and pushes boundaries.”
Pearsall said she hopes to offer undergraduates a new perspective.
“I’d like Maryville College students to explore their creative storytelling abilities by looking into their own lives and environments,” she said. “One needn't travel to war-torn cities such as Aleppo or Baghdad to witness human struggle, rather simply open one’s eyes to the stories around them.”
Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state's third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for offering its students a rigorous and highly personal experience that includes an undergraduate research requirement, Maryville College is a nationally ranked institution of higher learning that successfully joins the liberal arts and professional preparation. Total enrollment for the fall 2015 semester was 1,213.