The Earl Project engages veterans and soldiers in creating new, original works of visual art both individually and in a collective war stories scroll sculpture. No previous art-making experience is required. It is a project based on the premise that making is cathartic, making feels good, and making meaning of combat experience through art-telling stories has healing potential.
In Burn-out art workshops, veterans and soldiers are taught simple but evocative methods in creating images and stories with fabric and paper burn-out techniques, conceived as emblematic of the psychic burn-out that many soldiers experience. They also are invited to contribute their stories to a community-made sculpture, transformed into abstracted language so it remains as confidential as they choose. Using burn-out techniques along with mending stitches as both metaphor and realization of healing in a physical manifestation, they transform lived experience into art. The premier feature presentation is two exhibitions of individual and collective work produced by art workshop participants, at the Manhattan Art Center (Manhattan, KS) and Mingenback Art Gallery (Lindsborg, KS) in summer 2019.
From October 2018-June 2019, the eleven Burn-out workshops at the Manhattan Art Center, Beach Museum of Art, and Mingenback Art Center, were open to any veteran or active duty soldier. Workshops are usually a single session, three-hour workshop.
The project is named for Earl Molzen, a PTSD survivor of World War II that was an inspiration to his family for his kindness, but relevant to this project, for the unusual and delightful objects, creative interventions and “fixes” that he made over sixty years as part of life on his parents’ central Kansas dairy farm. The artist creator of the project, Earl’s niece, is Geraldine Craig, who conceptualized its structure and meaning based on her love for her uncle, her experience making art and teaching art to veterans. She serves as the project director and lead for the artist teacher collaborations with the soldiers, hiring the artist assistants for the art workshops and installation of the final exhibitions.