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Capturing the Personal Perspective of Military Service

By Donna Erwin, owner of Columbia River Gallery

Tru Frameable Moments is a sales-building initiative that promotes custom framing as the ideal way to preserve and display life’s most memorable events. In this post, past Tru Vue® Framing Competition winner Donna Erwin, owner of Columbia River Gallery in Troutdale, Oregon, talks about working on a Frameable Moment piece that honored a client’s multiple tours of military duty in Afghanistan.



Framing to commemorate military service is so often done by displaying the more classic symbols, such as medals, patches, retired flags, and images of the person in uniform. Several years back, a customer came to me looking for a different approach to capturing his military experience through custom framing.



Having completed three tours of duty in Afghanistan, my customer wanted to frame photos he had taken of the Afghan landscape that had dominated his view during his time there. Digitally stitched together; these eight images created a stair-step-shaped panoramic. He left the very long, oddly shaped photographic print with me and said, “Do your magic.”



The shape of the photograph was the driving element behind the design and definitely a challenge, especially since this was before the time of my computerized mat cutter. In addition to hand-cutting the mat, I also had to create balance in the piece, given the large amount of negative space that resulted from the image’s stair-step shape. The solution was to use a shadowbox structure and fill the blank areas with objects from his time in Afghanistan. He chose to include brass knuckles, a bullet and casings, a knife, shrapnel and an American flag that was a constant fixture in his boot. Most of the items were sewn down to the mounting.



The ruggedness of the terrain in the image was another aspect that influenced the design.  The landscape in the Afghan Mountains is extremely rocky, dusty and almost devoid of any plant life, and we wanted every aspect of the framing to capture that. I used a frame made of salvaged barn wood, as manufactured mouldings available at the time were too clean and polished. The 45”x 20” piece is protected with Conservation Clear®.



This more personal perspective combines the story told through the compelling image of the physical environment and the shrapnel with the traditional representation of military values such as patriotism and bravery. It not only honors the service but also speaks to the experience of being in the bleak environment of the war-torn Afghan Mountains.



Do you have a Tru Frameable Moment? If yes, enter it in to Tru Vue Framing Competition. For more information on the competition, visit our competition page.

This article is intended for educational purposes only and does not replace independent professional judgment. Statements of fact and opinions expressed are those of the author(s) individually and, unless expressly stated to the contrary, are not the opinion or position of Tru Vue or its employees. Tru Vue does not endorse or approve, and assumes no responsibility for, the content, accuracy or completeness of the information presented.

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