ODYSSEY | WARRIORS COME HOME (2019)

Witness the journey home from war through the photographs and writing of combat veterans.

In a photography exhibit that spans four floors, veterans explore the challenges of returning from battle and share their creative victories over circumstances in ODYSSEY / Warriors Come Home. Project founder Brendan Bannon and co-teaching artist Julian Chinana led participants identified by the Veterans One-stop Center of WNY through CEPA Gallery’s Odyssey Workshops to produce the artwork.

Image Credit: Nate Maybee, Going Back

About Veterans One-stop Center of WNY

The Veterans One-stop Center of WNY is a 501(c)(3) non-profit providing supportive services to veterans and their families in a convenient single location where they can access a holistic range of social and health services needed to complete the transition to civilian life. We provide barrier free access in the comfort of a “home base” environment that is always welcoming, affirming and responsive to their needs.

Services are provided by existing, independent service provider partners working together in a coordinated way to provide a seamless program that assists Veterans and their families in dealing with the various challenges they encounter. Any veteran regardless of status is eligible for our services.

We empower veterans to achieve economic success, housing stability, and emotional health and well being.

Visit vocwny.org to learn more.

The Odyssey Project - Exhibit - CEPA Gallery - Buffalo NY

Exhibit Location

CEPA Gallery
Atrium
FLUX Gallery
Passageway Galleries (2 and 3)
Underground Gallery

617 Main Street
Buffalo, NY 14203

Exhibit Dates

Friday, September 20, 2019
through
Saturday, December 28, 2019

Admission
Free to the public

Exhibit Times

Monday–Friday
10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
Saturday
12:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m.

Opening Reception

CEPA Gallery
617 Main Street
Buffalo, NY 14203

Friday, September 20, 2019
5:00 p.m.–10:00 p.m.

Admission
Free to the public

Curator’s Statement for The Odyssey Project

ODYSSEY | Warriors Come Home

By Brendan Bannon

Witness the journey home from war. You’ve never seen anything like this. In photographs, words and life-sized self-portraits, 37 combat veterans show us the profound and deeply personal impact of war. Over the past nine months, the veterans in the ODYSSEY Workshops made photographs. They crafted meaning from memory, loss, love and war. In the exhibit they share the meaning they found and the questions that remain.

Images for The Odyssey Project

Market Arcade Atrium

Exhibit: Market Arcade Atrium

Cyanotypes

The Twin Towers fell 18 years ago. A generation of American warriors rose in response. These life-sized self-portraits made by veterans stand side by side as they did in combat. Side by side, they echo the towers that fell.
These light infused images are the impressions of human bodies.
They are deep with personal symbolism. They remind us that soldiers lay their bodies on the line every day.

—Brendan Bannon

All photos © 2019 Rob McElroy. All rights reserved.

Flux Gallery

Exhibit: FLUX Gallery

Exposure

This gallery explores the themes of the soldier’s return in a short but bold poem of images. Each of the participants in the Odyssey Workshops is represented in this gallery. Their voices combine to exclaim a powerful vision of life.

—Brendan Bannon

All photos © 2019 Rob McElroy. All rights reserved.

Passageway Gallery (2)

Exhibit: Passageway Gallery (2nd Floor)

The Odyssey

This is the Odyssey, the soldier’s journey home from war. It is a small symphony of images.

This installation is an attempt to share each photographer’s story within the wider story of a soldier’s return from war. It starts at the beginning. It starts with the ideas of love and home. The soldiers commit to a new journey that begins with a love for something so deep they are willing to risk their lives for it. That story is interrupted by war and redefined by war’s consequences. We see images for deployment combined with images about deployment.

The next series of photos explore the odyssey: what happens when the veteran returns home. Veterans face unexpected challenges when they come back. The soldiers come home having endured the most profound experiences of their lives. They are changed in ways that aren’t clear to themselves or their loved ones. Some fight addictions, some become isolated, they try to cope. Lives are changed by trauma and its aftershocks.

The next series of photos begin to describe what veterans come home to. They come back to the land, the places, the ideals that they fought for. They come back to families they left behind and the new families they form. During this return they face a reckoning. The impact of what they’ve been through starts to manifest and a new murky set of battle lines are drawn.

In the final photos, the veterans describe their strength, their coping, their new ideas on service at home and the connections to people and places that matter to them.

—Brendan Bannon

All photos © 2019 Rob McElroy. All rights reserved.

Passageway Gallery (3)

Passageway Gallery (3rd Floor)

Journal Pages

During the ODYSSEY Workshops, the veterans were asked to create journals. Keeping a journal allows a person the opportunity to have a place to go and record thoughts, feelings, and frustrations. The journals that were kept during the workshop began with an autobiography in ten photos which were glued down by hand and described in writing.

The journals became part of the photographic practice. On its pages, veterans organized their thoughts and kept a record of the photographs made during the journey through the ODYSSEY Workshops.

Trauma can have a tremendous effect on memory, causing lapses and sometimes shifts in what we remember. Events that cause a great deal of emotional response often become the most prevalent and “unforgettable” of their lives.

Occasionally, the response to trauma leaks into our lives when some of those intense emotions and memories are integrated into how we think and feel about normal everyday tasks. A journal can work much like the way memory works. It allows a person to look back at a previous event and recount certain details about it. With those cues, such as a photograph or written text, it can initiate a reaction of emotions.

These journals have given many of these veterans the time and place to reflect on their photographs and their emotions. This conversation between current and past feelings about the same memory is a powerful tool to process emotions and memories.

—Julian Chinana

All photos © 2019 Rob McElroy. All rights reserved.

Underground Gallery

Underground Gallery

The Things We Carried

The military issues equipment to its service men and women based on what it determines to be the basic necessities to stay alive and to complete their mission. Along with this equipment, other items are carried for comfort, superstition, religion, and other personal reasons. Each person decides what items to carry and what to leave behind.

The things we carry to war give us some insight into the mindset and personalities of the warriors that carry them. Each item is selected based on its physical weight and importance. As we carry these items through the trials and tribulations of war, each item also carries with it an emotional weight, such as a photograph of a loved one or a bible, which gives hope and solace. We have carried many things, with both tremendous physical and emotional weight into war. However, the things we carried out of war, often figurative and unseen, may be the heaviest.

Many of us continue to carry the sounds, the smells, and the decisions of war. We carry the memories of the friends who did not make it home. We carry the loss. And, we carry the pain. The items in this gallery are just a small selection of the things we have carried and a glimpse of the things we continue to carry.

—Julian Chinana

All photos © 2019 Rob McElroy. All rights reserved.

Opening Receptions

Opening Receptions

All photos © 2019 Rob McElroy. All rights reserved.

Press for The Odyssey Project

News for The Odyssey Project

Sponsors for The Odyssey Project

The Odyssey Project Sponsors - CEPA Gallery - Buffalo NY

Additional Donors

*Each donation of more than $500 received a special gift print from the exhibition.

  • Ariel Aberg-Riger & Inbal Austern*
  • Deborah Abgott*
  • Amy & Julio Alvarez-Perez*
  • Sarah Baird & Eva Kerman
  • Joanne Busch Michelle & Sam Capizzi
  • Jeffrey Carloni
  • Karen Cornell
  • Luke Cusack & Denis Guerin*
  • Errol & Barbara Daniels
  • Judy Denler
  • Robert Eidshun
  • Stephen Fitzmaurice
  • Bob & Ruth Fleming*
  • Harvey Garrett
  • Chris & Michelle Glynn*
  • Melissa Grainger & Adam Walters*
  • Richard Haynes & Nan Lipsitz
  • Shannon Heneghan
  • Biff Henrich & Lauren Tent*
  • George & Marylou Hess
  • Dr. Cameron Huckell
  • Michael Jackson & Daryl Springer
  • Molly Jarboe & Kunji Rey*
  • Brian Kawaler
  • Lauren Krystaf
  • Steve Lakomy & Cheryl Lyles
  • Douglas Levere
  • Shannon & Neil Lipke
  • Leonard London
  • Sam Magavern & Monica Angle
  • Wendy Caldwell Maloney*
  • Robert Meredith & Adam Cavazos*
  • Jeffrey Moyer
  • Jeannine & Dan Mullan*
  • Cristin Murray
  • Andrea Ó Súilleabháin
  • Gina & Erik O’Neill*
  • Kate Stapleton Parzych
  • Wendy Pierce*
  • Peter Pilliod
  • Larry Quinn
  • Reilly Family Foundation* at the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo
  • Joseph & Amy Robinson
  • Paris Roselli*
  • John & Amanda Rusch*
  • Andy Russell
  • Shawn Schlifke
  • Robert Schulman & Hannah Raiken*
  • Maria Scrivani & John Lipsitz
  • Dolores Sheehan
  • Steven & Nancy Siegel*
  • Rachel Stenclik
  • Mark Supples & Amy Taylor*
  • Gretchen & Tom Toles*
  • Lynn Tomkins
  • Andrew Ucci & Brena Newell*
  • Susan Warren
  • Elizabeth Williams & Rob Cassetti
  • Pui Yu Wong & Keith Raimondi
  • Laura Zaepfel*