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* THE ORIGINAL ACRYLIC COLOR SKETCH on Canvas Board (Preparatory Work for the Original Oil Painting ON THE HIGH GROUND) BY ARTIST MARK CHURMS. Framed with 3 5/8 inch reverse dark brown frame, with Copper/Gold subtle accent. Study size: 10.4 inches high x 16 inches wide, Frame Size: 17 1/4 inches high x 22 3/4 inches wide.
The West Point Class of '95 Painting Project "On the High Ground" began sometime in 2004, a particularly difficult time for the Class. We lost a number of Classmates, and, with two wars raging, many had lost other friends and colleagues. With the success of our first big reunion, it became clear that we had the momentum to do something to commemorate those who had so recently served and those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. The concept and inspiration came almost immediately.
With Honor We Strive, Michael D. Jason, '95 Class President
ON THE HIGH GROUND - United States Armed Forces - Operation Iraqi Freedom , 2005-2006 A.D.
On the High Ground" comes from a well known saying spoken between departing comrades. Hiding our own emotion with a mask of command and bravado, we usually say, "I'll see you on the high ground." When that reunion actually happens it is an extremely emotionally charged event. No matter the location, or the situation, the pure joy of an unexpected encounter with an old friend in a far flung land is unmistakable and something all of us have shared. Whether it is two West Point classmates in the streets of Baghdad, or two Non Commissioned Officer Academy graduates in Afghanistan, or two college mates in Kosovo, or even two high school friends in Korea, meeting the familiar in the environment of the unfamiliar is a powerful emotion indeed. Mark Churms works hard to capture that very spirit.
The theme of the painting is one that seeks to be very inclusive. It is in this spiritthat the context was especially chosen. The two classmates meet somewhere in the Middle East. Many might see themselves in Iraq, others in Afghanistan. The two are meeting while linking up for a partnered operation between U.S. and local forces. This is not a battle scene like so many recent paintings; this is a scene of activities performed thanklessly a thousand times a day by thousands of soldiers: the difficult and often monotonous complex missions of today's Counter Insurgency wars. At the time of the project, members of the Class of '95 were new Majors in the Army and were participating in a unique role in this conflict as combat advisors, something not seen in combat since the Vietnam War. Some of the Soldiers in this painting will be serving in this role. Others will be more conventional troops. Apache and Blackhawk helicopters are flying overhead, a careful nod to our fallen classmates. Seeking again for inclusion, the painting takes place in 2005-2006, featuring both male and female soldiers, some soldiers are in the older Desert Combat Uniform, while others wear the newer Advanced Combat Uniform; still others in a mix of both as the supply system tries to catch up to the soldiers' needs. Whether one served as a company commander, an advisor, a pilot, a squad leader, you will see yourself and your experiences in "On The High Ground."
With Honor We Strive, Michael D. Jason, '95 Class President. ON THE HIGH GROUND - United States Armed Forces - Operation Iraqi Freedom , 2005 - 2006 AD