Click below to listen to KMZU’s Ashley Johnson speak with April Watson, Curator of photography at the Nelson Adkins Museum of Art in Kansas City:

April Watson

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City is hosting a new exhibition with focus on America’s bravest. “It’s a show called American Soldier,” explained Watson, “It’s an exhibition of about 50 or so photographs, most of which are from our collection, that highlight images of service men and women from the civil war on up to contemporary conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

Through-out history, war time has been a very real truth that affects everyone on some level. “It’s a topic that is very timely and as a curator I was noticing that there were a lot of contemporary photographers,” Watson said, “Either photographers working as artists or photographers working as photo journalists who were making sort of different or unusual images of American service men and women. I thought it would be interesting to do a show that connected that contemporary work to some of the historical material that we have in our collection because we have quite a few of these sort of iconic images.”

This show case will capture your attention and heart as you not only see but feel the emotion in the photos. “When we think of soldiers, we sort of assign I think certain emotions or qualities,” expressed Watson, “Things like strength and courage and bravery. We definitely have images that suggest those emotions or psychological states but there are also, particularly with the contemporary work, images that suggest a broader range of emotions. Things like vulnerability or even fear or remorse or just kind of introspection.”

Although war is recognized as a bloody time, this show case is based more on the emotional stand points and not the over-all definition of the action. “There are a few dead bodies in the civil war photographs,” said Watson, “But for the most part really we’ve kept out the blood and gore. This is really focusing more on the humanity of the individual subjects, which is what this show is about.”

The American Soldier exhibition will be on display through June. Admission to the Museum if free.