what is image nation?
Image Nation is a project drawing together veterans and the community through photography. The reintegration of veterans into civilian life is a vitally important task for the community, and it is the responsibility of both the returning veteran and the civilian world. Reintegration is a complex, multi-stage process, which can take many years.
An important element for the successful and healthy returnee is the opportunity, when ready, for the veteran to tell his or her story to a listening community. The intention of Image Nation has been to give participating veterans the opportunity to tell their stories to a large audience through a unique and powerful visual medium.
National, award-winning photographer and U.S. Veteran Michael Llewellyn has provided participating veterans instruction in photography over a three year period, sending each on assignment to document their worlds. Simultaneously, Llewellyn created character studies of each veteran. With the support of counselors, the process has enabled veterans to see their world with a new perspective and our culminating exhibitions have allowed our community to perceive our veterans in a new light.
Now, Image Nation resides in the form of an online e-commerce gallery, where veteran alumni can display and sell their work, with all profits benefiting them. We thank Larry and Brenda Hoyle for their generosity in funding this important phase of Image Nation, ensuring its legacy in perpetuity.
about our veteran photographers
Visit the Image Nation Blog where you can read the biographies, mission statements and service history of the participants.
Image Nation is an initiative of Nevada County Arts Council (NCArts) in partnership with Welcome Home Vets. Through photography workshops with master photographer and United States veteran Michael Llewellyn, two seasons of veterans together created three exhibitions of work which were shared with the community across Nevada County.
To ensure the spirit of Image Nation lives on, Nevada County Arts Council has created a curated online photography gallery and e-commerce site for alumni, in order to both exhibit and generate income for veterans themselves.
what veterans say
“Not only have I found a new much needed and satisfying creative outlet, but also have become closer and more appreciative of my brother and sister veterans… The accentuated closeness is a very good feeling for me. Image Nation has become a brotherhood within the brotherhood of American Veterans” ~Mark Rogers
"Image Nation helped me explore and validate my own feelings about being a veteran. Until I participated in Image Nation, when I got off of active duty in 1985, my experiences as a veteran were either ignored or ridiculed." ~Kate LaFerriere
"Image Nation is unique in its focus, as it enhances the quality of a veteran’s life through artistic endeavor. Our group learned how to use the camera as an instrument of art. We presented our work for discussion, learned from and taught each other and, I believe, improved the quality of our lives." ~Frank Innis
"I am a PTS Vet rated at 100%. I benefited greatly from Image Nation. I was able to work on many issues that had caused me much strife in my life. I am left feeling enriched and, at the end, my pictures reflect ME and who I have become as a person." ~Oral Stallings
"Being free to display vulnerability is extremely counter-intuitive to the military person but a necessity of survival off the battle field. Image Nation helped me discover that expression through art is a valid and productive way to explore and feed the soul." ~Jason Tedder
the artistic director
Michael Llewellyn is a national award-winning photographer and teacher. His work has appeared in Time, Esquire, National Geographic, Fortune, Popular Science, Entertainment Weekly, Greenpeace, Rolling Stone and others. He has photographed Fortune 500 CEO's and celebrities including Wynton Marsalis, Rodney Dangerfield, Dana Carvey, Gene Wilder, Rosie O'Donnell, Rage against the Machine, Van Halen, and K.D. Lang.
What our artistic director says about Image Nation: "Practicing photography is a voyage of self-discovery as well as self-expression. My goal has been to help reveal what is unique and creative about each veteran – to themselves and for the public. As phase one of Image Nation draws to a close, and the practical teaching of photography to veterans moves to one of creating an online gallery for them in perpetuity, I feel moved that so many of our alumni can speak to Image Nation’s impact and their enjoyment of the process.”
why it is so important
Nevada County is home to almost 10,000 veterans. Image Nation has provided a much-needed bridge between these men and women and communities across the county – shining a light on their experiences in a unique way. Through Image Nation Nevada County Arts Council has offered access to an unparalleled opportunity to learn from the best in field. Too many of our veterans struggle with social isolation due to their military experiences, yet they have so much to offer society. Through workshops with Michael and the opportunity to exhibit, Image Nation has helped unlock this potential, offering encouragement and creative self-expression, while building confidence.
how it began
During our first year we offered veterans a free series of workshops with Michael. This culminated in an exhibition of veterans’ photography at the Rood Government Center, Nevada City, in July 2016. The results were breathtaking, and feedback from participating veterans and the public alike was inspiring and heartwarming. You can meet participating veterans here.
In 2017 we toured this exhibition to Truckee, where we displayed the work of our veterans at the Truckee Community Recreation Center for a full four months, allowing an estimated 5,000 people per month to enjoy their work.
In early 2018 we opened a new exhibition of work by a new group of participating veterans at the Rood Center in Nevada City - having guided them through three months of person-to-person tuition at the Grass Valley Veterans Memorial Building. Our new exhibit remained in place until April this year.
how you can help
For more information on Image Nation and how to offer your support for veterans, please contact us at (530) 718-0727 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stand Alone Together
Taken at the Opening Reception of our touring show in Eastern Nevada County, this short video hints at the interdisciplinary nature of our 2017 exhibit, combining photography and poetry by veterans, and this special, choreographed dance performance called Stand Alone Together by student choreographer Kassidy Commendatore, and four other dancers aged 13-15.