The Community Read

The Community Read is a project to involve the community in reading, reflection, and awareness of issues facing our community. This is an annual event held in the spring. This year the group is promoting the book, The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. This is a book that focuses on the effects of war on the people who fight these battles. It is a semiautobiographical story about a platoon leader’s experiences in Vietnam.

As part of the Community Read there will be lectures, group discussions, and exhibits around the area. There will be an opening reception and exhibit at the Evansville-Vanderburgh Public Library on April 1, 2012, from 2pm to 4pm. The public library will be hosting an exhibit of veterans art, war posters and images from recent conflict in Iraq that will be on display for the month if April. There is similar display on the first floor of the David L. Rice Library.

One of the premier collections that will be exhibited is Outsider Folk Art work from a Mt. Vernon resident, Rick McCarty. Rick served in the Vietnam War and found a way to express his struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) through drawings and poems. These pieces depict the continuing nightmares from his memories of the war. The images are centered on a particular mission where a village was destroyed in the province of Bien Hoa in 1971. During this mission Rick lost two close friends and a young villager, Mimi, who he became close to while in the area.

There are re-occurring motifs like the Boy of Peace, often shown preaching or holding a book. Another is the Demon Face representing the enemy or the god of war. McCarty’s work has been shown at many places. These include a traveling Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, Mt. Vernon High School, Alexandrian Public Library, and the Evansville Museum of Arts, History, and Science. These are moving images of the effects of war on the people who serve.

Also at the exhibit will be World War II bond posters from the Sonntag Collection that is part of the permanent collections at the University of Southern Indiana and some candid photographs of military personnel life during the Iraq War donated by a USI student, Jason Hayes.

For more information on the Community Read or to see a listing of events and organizations involved, see the Community Read website, http://www.usi.edu/communityread/index.shtml .

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