Suzanne Opton

After nine years, over 4,000 military deaths, and thousands more injuries, the Iraq War is finally over. Soon after the U.S. invasion, New York photographer Suzanne Opton began making portraits of the men and women who serve, posing them near identically in her series Soldier, with heads resting on the ground. Eyes open and closed, some looking relaxed, others just tired, their faces were compared to those in a morgue back in 2008, when Opton bought billboard space to display them in Minneapolis-St. Paul during the Republican National Convention. Naturally the billboard company canceled the contract for fear of offending McCain-Palin supporters. Said Opton of her subjects, "They may look troubled, but it's not easy to be a soldier. Why should that be hidden from us?" In a second series on view, Many Wars, she drapes veterans—some going back to WWII—with robes and places them in almost classical poses, as if they'd stepped out of a painting. In a real sense, they have. Art history is full of nobly posed warriors with raised swords, flapping banners, and valiant steeds. Opton does away with all that, dispenses with medals and uniforms, notions of bravery and patriotism. You just get a name, no rank, and maybe the length of service. Their sacrifice and our respect is implicit, but it's the gulf between us that may be the real subject of Opton's lens. (Also note closing reception with the artist on Thurs., Feb. 4; and an artist talk at the Henry: 7 p.m. Fri., Feb 3.) BRIAN MILLER

Wednesdays-Fridays, 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; Saturdays, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; Fri., Feb. 3, 7 p.m. Starts: Jan. 5. Continues through Feb. 5, 2012

 
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