By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
'Soldiers Portraits' on display in Statesboro
GSU exhibit features Stewart troops
Georgia Southern Art Department director Patricia Carter, top left, lends a hand to student Daniel T'acheeni Todd, 23 of Navajo, Utah as Ellen Susan's Soldier Portraits show is assembled and hung. - photo by Scott Bryant/Statesboro Herald
For more go to the Betty Foy Sanders Department of Art Web site,
STATESBORO -- Ellen Susan has installed a unique exhibit, "Soldier Portraits," in the Center for Art and Theater at Georgia Southern University. The exhibit includes portraits of 42 soldiers who are currently serving in the U.S. military.
"Soldier Portraits" has been featured in group shows and two other solo shows around the country. While she has lived in cities all over the U.S., it was not until recently that Susan lived in a place with a strong military presence.
"I moved to Savannah about two years ago, and I had never lived anywhere there were so many soldiers or any really. And I started thinking about the fact that I didn't know any soldiers," Susan said.
The wet collodion process is what makes Susan's photographs so distinctive. It is the same process that was used to photograph soldiers during the Civil War. Though pictures taken with this method are in black and white, sensitivity to ultraviolet and blue light produces interesting color variations. It also takes anywhere from 10 to 30 seconds to take a photo, which is what makes these pictures so "intense," according to Susan.
"While they're engaged in the process of being photographed, they're sort of concentrating on being still and thinking whatever thoughts they're thinking ... Whereas in a quick snapshot, they're not really thinking about anything - it's just a fraction of a second of their time," she said.
The exhibit is a chance for people to look at soldiers as individuals, according to Susan, a chance to "look right into the eyes of the people that are going to war as opposed to not, and watching them troop around on television."
"Soldiers always seemed to me just like sort of anonymous. You know, a bunch of people in uniform who sort of all look the same," said Susan.
"But when you see them up close, you realize well, here's a person. And I wanted to photograph them in a way that brought out their individuality and physical characteristics."
Susan noted that Americans are so separated from the current war that many ignore that it is happening, unlike wars when food had to be rationed and most people knew at least one soldier.
"Because (the war) doesn't really have that much effect on us, people don't have to think about it," Susan said. "Because they don't have to think about the war, they don't have to think about the soldiers."
Many of the soldiers whose portraits will be on display are or were stationed at Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Air Field. While soldiers can visit the show's Web site,, this is the first time the exhibit has been anywhere near the Savannah area. Susan hopes that some of these military men and women will take advantage of this opportunity.
According to Stephanie Neal with the Center for Art and Theater, the show opening last week was close to the deployment of the Statesboro National Guard. The 48th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, stationed in Statesboro, is in training, and expected to deploy to Afghanistan for 10 months starting in June.
"I do hope that some soldiers are able to come and see the show, and I'd love if they could come to the reception," Susan said.
The exhibit is open until March 12. Susan will discuss her work on Feb. 18 from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Visual Arts Building Auditorium. All events are free and open to the public.
Sign up for our e-newsletters