In over 30 years of employment with the V.A. Healthcare System, working as a Creative Arts Therapist on the inpatient psychiatric care unit has been my most rewarding experience. The various characteristics of illnesses present caregivers with a constant flow of new challenges.
“Fragile Warriors” is a tribute to those who served our country and are now in a delicate situation. It also acknowledges those who serve them. Patients, though in a group, are often isolated in their own worlds, a condition that results from the illness and medications being used to treat them. Hence, the cubes contain individuals who suffer disorders from schizophrenia, depression, PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) suicide / homicidal ideations, addictions, etc. There is one figure who appears free and content with being in this place, this state of mind. However, a closer look at their wrist betrays any reference to stability.
The camera (enclosed in the mounted glass bubble) represents the ever-present watchful eye of the caregiver, who is again symbolized by the hand reaching out. Other imagery includes some of the more often prescribed medications, floating through the ward setting. There’s the barrel of an M-16 rifle jutting from the window of a patient’s room. This illustrates a military presence and deeper still, the manic sentinel who is ever vigilant.