“Where Are You Today?” visited artist Jeanine Hill-Soldner’s exhibit “Portraits of American Veterans: A Continuing Dialogue”. Jeanine is a McHenry County artist with a studio in Crystal Lake. Her exhibit at the Algonquin Area Public Library is part of the Vet Art Project.
The mission of The Vet Art Project is to provide “opportunities for veterans and their families to work in collaboration with artists to create art about war and service, and to foster discussion about how war and service affect us all.”
Growing up, Jeanine loved to visit art museums and draw. At age 12, she began painting after her grandfather sent her a set of paints.
Through these portraits of veterans, Jeanine tells their stories about their time both in the military and after discharge. Currently living in Algonquin, she grew up in a military family and in the 1960’s lived in Hawaii. In 1965 her father was deployed from there to Viet Nam and trained some of those first ground troops.
“These paintings are about veterans.” Jeanine says, “I am doing work about veterans because my childhood was defined by my father being in the military. My dad was in Marine Corp. It has been very worthwhile, I feel like it is quite an honor that all these wonderful people come into my studio for their portrait.”
Each painting represents a person who has come into her studio and posed for their portrait. The paintings are all oil on canvas and 30×40 inches. Each veteran is pictured with items that are meaningful to him or her. Jeanine is currently working on her 17th veteran portrait in her Crystal Lake studio.
We spoke with Virginia Freyre, Adult Reference Librarian at the Algonquin Area Public Library which hosted this exhibit and I asked her how patrons benefit from exhibits like this.
Virginia said, “The patrons benefit because we are providing exactly what our mission states which is the informational, educational, cultural, and recreational aspect of art. We collaborate frequently with a lot of artists. Jeanine, who has done all these art works, was the first one to actually exhibit in this library, And she is also the one who got us the hanging system here. So she is quite a star here at our library.”
The library also collaborates with other artists, Jacobs High School and the Village of Algonquin to display art. Follow the library on Facebook.
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