After Eisenhower is directly shaped by my upbringing in a conservative military community in Twentynine Palms, California. Both of my parents served in the United States Marines Corps. My own conflicted view of the military has spurred my curiosity about its role in American life.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned about the grave implications of the growing power of the military and the military industrial complex in his 1961 farewell address. Eisenhower’s speech provides the framework for this project. Was his concern justified? My work explores the signs and clues that reveal the influence of the military on American culture and also the attitudes of Americans toward the military.
In many American places, especially areas surrounding military bases, military culture is an inseparable part of the landscape. One can see many signals of how the military is intertwined in the established American patriotic, national and Christian identity. Support for the military and veterans is simplified through iconography and combined with complex and polarizing issues such as religion, race, class, patriotism, and gun culture. I find the saturation of these oversimplified messages disconcerting; however, I am also fascinated by what they reveal. These messages, in both public and private spaces, are meant to have clear meanings, but these places and artifacts suggest other, more problematic truths about American life and our relationship to our military.
— Jasmine Clark, Chicago