Saturday, October 7, 2017

Vietnam, Part 1

I have wanted to join Elke ever since I saw her theme at Art Journal Journey.  However, similar to how I didn't understand Jo's challenge from two months ago, I'm not quite sure what Elke means by Landscapes of the Soul.  One of the things that tears at my soul is when I hear about the war in Vietnam.

A couple of my no-name, no-photos-allowed friends brought up the 10 episode Ken Burns film relating to the Vietnam War.  Sadly, I had not seen it, so had trouble joining in the conversation. 

I admit I knew very little about the Vietnam War.   My grandparents (who raised me from birth) didn't allow a tv in our home while I was growing up.  So I missed out on a lot of the news that I'm sure most kids saw and absorbed. 

In my small town, we didn't talk about it, and I don't ever remember anyone going off to war or being drafted.  That doesn't mean it didn't happen.  It just means I wasn't aware of it.  The first time I knew anything about it was when a few of my school friends and I started following the Watergate scandal after it became public.  Before that, I knew nothing about our government.  I don't even remember high school civics or U.S. history teachers talking about politics.

I remember I had so many mixed feelings back then, and I do to this day.  The more I learn about this war, the more ashamed I am to call myself an American.

This is how it all started.  The Vietnamese wanted the French gone, and got the Americans in their place.  The South Vietnamese traded (or were handed) one dictator for another and one persecutor for another.   As an aside, the OSS was the predecessor to the CIA.

Materials used for this side include my handmade shimmering mists, a time line of our first involvement in the war taken from various internet sources, computer generated text, and a picture from a travel magazine.

For side two, I decided to stick with something I knew about.

I admit I knew nothing about the Mekong Delta, but I remember some of my friends saying their older brothers said they couldn't get away from the war when they were in Vietnam.  They said even the songs were about the war.

They also said the most beautiful places they had ever seen were soon turned to rubble.  What was not bombed was burned or cut down with machine guns and hand grenades.   I simply can't imagine growing up in a place like that, where people who looked like me might be my enemy.

I've often said I was born at least a decade too late, because these are the songs I love.  Yes, I am a huge classic rock fan.

For this side, I used more of my shimmering mists and masked off two hearts, but covered one with the focal image.  These are the songs I remember that dealt with the war, or that dealt with our conflicting feelings about the war.  I sewed two computer generated texts to two pieces of shimmering misted card stock.  I hand wrote the sentiments on both sides using a red metallic gellyroll pen.

I will obviously continue making more and more of these spreads for the Asia section of my 7 Continents altered book as I learn more and more about the war.  I also plan to talk to a few people who my no-name friends suggested I speak with in order to learn more about this war that tore my country (the U.S.A.) and Vietnam apart in the 1970s.

Please join me at Art Journal Journey as I try to make art that revolves around Landscapes of the Soul.  And thanks for joining me here today, too.

16 thoughtful remarks:

Valerie-Jael said...

Beautiful page. The Vietnam war was awful, as are all wars. Good to remind of the sinless horrors of mass destruction. Hugs, Valerie

geistige_Schritte said...

that is a wonderful page. the tears from the soul on this subject since you shast well recognized. thank you that you have tried despite it difficult for you much. The soul in one can need a lot of laughter like crying, what good is what dark, just everything is deep into one. sometimes hidden. There is landscape in a like the fairies, ghosts, or Uraubsfeeling desires that one can fulfill, soul is fantasy in the art.
It is called a work of art has a soul which makes the harrow over when looking at!
Thanks for linking to AJJ
Happy Weekend

Let's Art Journal said...

Very poignant pages, such beauty and so much sadness. Wishing you a Happy Weekend! J 😊

RO said...

Your pages are quite lovely. As kids we learn about so many things that have happened in the past, but many of us just pay attention enough to pass the class. Now that I'm older, I'm paying much more attention to the things that happened in history, and I am often saddened. Many of those songs I'm quite familiar with and still enjoy. Hugs...and Happy Saturday! RO

CJ Kennedy said...

Beautiful page and yet sad memories. My brother is a Viet Nam veteran. My parents were constantly glued to the television news as the war was broadcast in the livingroom. My mother packed up care packages to send to her son. I imagine the same way she packed and sent care packages to her husband during WWII. Ma cried a lot for my brother. She lived for the few times my brother was able to make a phone call home. My brother was in country for 2 years. Came home with a Bronze star small consolation for the changes the war made to him.

froebelsternchen Susi said...

Those are poignant pages - wars were and are such sinless horror.
And nearly no nation has really clean hands - all have skeletons in their cupboards!
So sad!
You say that you don't understand the theme?!
You DO for sure!
Thank you very much for this wonderul post and pages linked to Art Journal Journey!
Happy weekend my friend!

My name is Erika. said...

These are cool pages and a great post Elizabeth. I have seen the beginning of the Vietnam series,but am just watching it now so I haven't finished it. It is very good and I think if you can check it out you should. The biggest issue with it is it is heavy duty and intense to watch in the evening when you are tired after working all day-at least for me. What is good is that it is getting people to talk. And think about things. I was just a child during most of the war so I don't remember a lot but I do remember the end of Saigon as I was a teenager then. However my parents were very conservative people so they were more or less status quo and believed if Nixon was sending troops it was good, so in my world there wasn't a lot about it either. I know exactly what you are talking about. OK, probably a long response. Happy Saturday. Hugs-Erika

Meggymay said...

A very moving and thought provoking post Elizabeth, Your pages are wonderful, I'm sure wars have effected us all, in many ways, memories pushed back inside us because of the pains the memories bring. But, saying that without the war , how many folk wouldn't know freedom. A no win situation.
I loved the song list and have many favourites there, top choice for me would be, 'A whiter shade of pale'.
Yvonne xx

Divers and Sundry said...

I remember the news about the Vietnam War and am just not interested in re-living it through this current tv series. We never learn from the past :(

craftytrog said...

Wars are so senseless to me too! It's always the innocents that suffer most!
Wonderful artwork Elizabeth!
Alison x

Sandra Cox said...

Such a sad time. A friend of mine died at 18 in Vietnam.

Jeanie said...

This is a really interesting post from a period that resonated with me -- I was a freshman in college when the Kent State shooting happened and my high school boyfriend serving in Vietnam. Weird times. The series is excellent and probably online at, at least for awhile (and being repeated now on Most PBS stations on Tuesdays, I think.) I've seen it all except for one episode I'll watch on the reruns and it's very well done and presents all points of view.

I love the colors and text you chose here, Elizabeth. It really works. And I love how you use your art to learn about new things.

Darla said...

Ah, sadly familiar times. DH was there. I've only seen part of the documentary but will be watching for it.

I do like your pages in any case.

Rita said...

I watch all the Ken Burns documentaries. I do remember Vietnam and all the music, for sure. Maybe you are lucky you didn't know.

Cindy McMath said...

A poingnant piece Elizabeth - thank you for sharing your feelings around your pages. The only thing I remember about the war was my dad would watch the news about it after I’d gone to bed because my parents considered it too terrible for a child to watch. I think that was a good policy - in 1973 when it ended I was only 10. When I think about what kids today and abosorb from so many media at such a young age I’m not sure it’s a great idea. I remember most of those songs from the radio when I was a kid (my parents used to listen to the radio while driving) - I’m more of a Motown girl myself. :)

pearshapedcrafting said...

I don't know so much about the Vietnam war although of course we saw the news programmes I was in my teens and didn't pay much attention to the reasons for it. I do remember those songs though - some real classics and a lot of favourites! From what I see Vietnam is a beautiful country! So pleased you did this! Hugs, Chrisx