Big Idea: Professor Highlights Student Veterans through Photos

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Baldwin LeeArt Professor Baldwin Lee wants to help student veterans document their time in the military through their own candid photos.

But he’s not looking for posed photos or action shots. He’s interested in pictures that capture their everyday experiences while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Lee’s project is called Through a Soldier’s Eye.

He plans to collect enough photographs to have an exhibit later this year and possibly put together a publication. He will be working with the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy and the UT Center for the Study of War and Society.

The idea for the project began about two years ago when Lee glanced over the shoulder of student Trent Frazor during photography class.

On the screen was a grainy black-and-white picture of Frazor, a veteran of the Iraq War, in a foxhole, his face and hands covered in camouflage paint, rifle and water flask behind him. He had a piercing gaze in his eyes.

Lee found the picture compelling even though Frazor didn’t think much of it. Frazor recently completed UT’s graduate program in art education and is now back home in South Carolina.

“What may, in the eyes of a soldier, seem to be nothing more than snapshots of unimportant events and places can often be astonishing images when seen by an audience with no knowledge of what it is like to be a soldier,” Lee said on the project’s web site. “Taken by insiders, these pictures provide a clearer and more accurate description of life in combat as opposed to the clich├ęd photographs made by outsiders for the media.”

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