Alfred State College continues to host a traveling art exhibit, “Always Lost: A Meditation on War,”  through the end of the semester, in the Hinkle Memorial Library gallery. Hours are Monday - Thursday 7:30 a.m. - 11 p.m., Friday 7:30 a.m. - 5 p.m., Saturday 1 - 7 p.m., and Sunday 1 - 11 p.m. The show is open to the public free of charge. The library will host a reception open to the public on Monday, Nov. 21, from 4-6 p.m. Light refreshments will be served.
As part of the exhibit, Alfred State College has included the story of one of its own, US Army veteran Joe Greenthal, ASC Class of 2009, payment services assistant at ASC, whose story is included among the permanent stories in the collection.
“Here I was, 20 years old, headed to Iraq, and responsible for five other soldiers who would look to me for answers to questions I’d never been asked. Despite my training and the certificates attesting to my proficiency, I didn’t feel prepared to face what lay ahead.” In retrospect, Joe believes that no amount of training could truly prepare him for his experiences in the Middle East. For more on Greenthal’s experience, visit the exhibit.
The birth of the exhibit began in fall 2008, when Western Nevada College sociology Professor Don Carlson was stopped in his tracks by The New York Times’ Roster of the Dead. “Four thousand faces of American military who had perished in Iraq stared at me,” he said, “and I realized that this war has been perhaps one of the most impersonal wars ever fought.”
The heart of Always Lost is the Wall of the Dead: individual photographs with names of the more than 6,200 US military war casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan since Sept. 11, 2001. Always Lost is committed to keeping the memorial wall current in honor of those who gave their lives and those who made it home.
Installed at Western Nevada College Carson City in spring 2009, the original exhibit generated an overwhelming response. One guest book comment read, “A national treasure.” By word-of-mouth, the story of Always Lost began to spread, and inquiries came from across the country. The Nevada Arts Council, a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts, awarded WNC a grant to support the project and reformat it as a traveling exhibit. Always Lost made its national debut at the University of Wisconsin-Marinette in fall 2010 and is scheduled to tour other venues through mid-2013. WNC dreams of sending Always Lost to all 50 states.
In spring 2011, US Senators Harry Reid and Dean Heller jointly expressed support of the project and invited the exhibition to Washington, DC. A generous donation by a longtime local business, the Carson Nugget, through its Community First initiative, made it possible to replicate the exhibition for our nation’s capital.
Always Lost has evolved into a powerful meditation on the effects of war on each of us. It has become a sacred space in which to contemplate the personal costs and collective sacrifice of these particular conflicts, and consequently, of all wars. In the meantime, casualties continue to mount, and the Wall of the Dead continues to grow.