NOVEMBER 2017 Art Exhibit
“A Break in the Battle: Tattoo Project Fort Benning”
Art Exhibit by Ronie Dalton
This exhibit was originally intended as a civilian generated concept to honor soldiers who had been deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as their wives. They are represented in 43 large-scale canvas images that depict individual tattoos, quotes, and portraits. Additionally, poetry from award winning poet and former Army squad leader, Brian Turner’s collection, “Here, Bullet”, was reproduced along with video footage of soldiers and tattoo artists. The exhibit’s title refers to lines from The Iliad when battle is momentarily paused during the Trojan War in order for Hector’s burial to occur. Soldiers often refer to the tattoo process as a way not only to acknowledge an experience and emotion, but also as a momentary break via the temporary pain from the memories and feelings associated with combat and loss.
Ronie Dalton’s son, James Andrew Dalton, grew up in Mill Valley, California and served in the infantry for 9 years. He was part of the first NATO peacekeeping force in Kosovo, was a gunner during the initial invasion of Iraq, and then a “dismount” infantry soldier during OIF III. His many tattoos reflected each of these conflicts. Three months after his last deployment at age 27, he unexpectedly killed himself on post at Fort Benning, Ga. on April 14, 2006. Two years later, his mother moved from Mill Valley to Columbus, Ga. and this exhibit was the result. Some of the images are of her son’s friends and others are soldiers and or their wives who heard about the project and were interested in participating. It was shown for 6 months in Uptown Columbus and later at Fort Benning, the Columbus Airport, and at Brian Turner’s poetry reading at Columbus State University. In 2016 portions were shown at the Columbus Museum as well as at “Echoes of War”, an event at the Playhouse Theater in Arcata, California.
Without the help of art students at Columbus State University, members of the community, and the support of Fort Benning personnel, “A Break in the Battle” would not have been possible. This exhibit was intended with the hope that a space might open up between those who have no experience of these current conflicts and those few who do, no matter what our political views.
Ronie Dalton moved back to the Bay Area in 2013. She has served as a member of the Mill Valley Art Commission, the Milley Committee, and currently she and Margaret Moster are co-curators at the Throckmorton Theatre in Mill Valley, California.