U.S. artist tracks fallen soldiers in major work

Thu Jan 7, 2010 9:50am EST
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - U.S. artist Emily Prince has been working on "American Servicemen and Women Who Have Died in Iraq and Afghanistan" for five years, and is likely to have to do so for several more.

On an almost daily basis, the 28-year-old from California visits a website that tracks U.S. soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq to see if there have been fresh fatalities.

When there are, she calls up the image of a dead soldier if one is available, copies it in graphite pencil, writes some basic personal details and includes a short commentary about the person when there is enough information.

If there is no picture available, Prince leaves most of the piece of card blank.

The result, on show from Thursday at the Saatchi Gallery in central London, is a long room where the white walls are lined with over 5,100 postcard-sized illustrations of fallen soldiers, their skin color reflected by different-colored paper.

"It was just out of curiosity, because my country has such a heavy hand militarily and ... I guess I felt something of a responsibility to know more about that since I was connected to it, though may be indirectly," Prince told Reuters. "It's most moving reading about the people more than looking at the faces because that's when you have a more in depth idea of an individual and that's when I have more of an emotional response to it.

"But I'm also doing it so much that I don't think I could possibly sustain a total emotional engagement with it the whole time."

The postcards are arranged in columns, each of which represents a week.   Continued...

<p>Visitors view hundreds of drawings of U.S. servicemen and women who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan by artist Emily Prince at the Saatchi Gallery in London January 7, 2010. REUTERS/Kevin Coombs</p>