By Lt. Col. Paul Fanning
New York National Guard
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y., (7/30/10) - A Saratoga Springs artist and her latest work are getting the home-town-treatment during a reception today here at theNew York State Military Museum and Veterans Research Center.
But to Rumara Jewett, it's her subjects who deserve the attention.
"Nowadays, there is a general recognition that the community needs to supportSoldiers as individuals," wrote Jewett about her reasons for starting andcompleting the project, which pays tribute to members of all of the nation'sservice branches. "All around are cars and lawns decorated with 'Support ourTroops' yellow ribbons."
"Coming Home" depicts a homecoming parade for local members of the variousmilitary services and is currently on display at the museum through the summer.
Jewett said the painting is meant to represent any service members from anycommunity in an ideal homecoming celebration. The subjects in her workinclude area members of the New York Army and Air National Guard as well asmembers of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. It is 72 by 80 inches, oil oncanvas in a vibrant display of color and local pride.
"This project had a big emotional draw for me," she said, referring to theSoldiers, Sailors, Airman and Marine who modeled for her. She said it was aprivilege for her to work with real service members instead of just models inrented uniforms.
"Also, I had been studying portraiture for several years and the chance towork with a variety of faces with their unique emotions reflecting what itwould feel like to be in the situation portrayed, was a big attraction."
It started out as a commissioned work with a private client and Jewettdeveloped a concept built around a military homecoming. As a workingcommercial artist, she approached the project first by researching her subject and then making a plan.
This was her first military subject. Through personal contacts and outreachshe identified some area military members who were willing to serve asmodels. She also drew upon her own memories of family members, who served inthe military. Although the commission fell through, she was determined tocomplete the work she started.
Jewett said she felt the energy of the project was much larger than her. "Itseemed important to do the work because of what it represents, namely theproper closure to the deployment experience of military service and respect,love and support for the individuals who are deployed," she said. "Thisproject represented what art can do to crystallize and reflect back anattitude prevalent in the general society."
New York Guard members included in the painting are: Lt. Col. Robert Mitchellof the 501st Explosive Ordnance Disposal Battalion based in Scotia, N.Y., Lt.Col. Kim Terpening, formerly of the New York Air National Guard's 139th AeroMedical Evacuation Squadron in Scotia and now serving on assignment with theAir National Guard at Andrews Air Force Base in Md., and Lt. Col. RussellHowe of the 42nd Infantry Division in Troy, N.Y.
"Coming Home" was completed in the spring and was first exhibited in a publiclibrary in her parent's home town of Lincoln, Mass. She put more time intothis project than any other, and Jewett said, the public reaction to "ComingHome" is very different than her previous efforts.
"The responses to the painting have been phenomenal and really much strongerthan anything I've experienced in the past," she said. "I've seen thestrength of emotion on people's faces when they first see it," she said,noting that moist eyes, broken speech and hushed tones were common reactions.She has also received an "outpouring" of compliments.
In addition to all the feedback, she feels that "Coming Home" demonstratesher abilities to capture emotion and energy in a unique and special way. "Itshows that I can portray accurately a complicated world that I don't knowwell, down to the fine details," she said. "Painting this was veryuplifting."