Ulysses S. Marshall
Served in Vietnam, U.S. Army
34 ⅛” x 26 ¼”, Acrylic on Paper with Collage and Crayon
Ulysses S. Marshall says his paintings are heavily inspired by his grandmother's patchwork quilts and family quilting sessions as he grew up in Vienna, Georgia. "Into their quilts, those Black daughters of Georgia sharecroppers wove stories of fantasy sure to stir the children who watched the patterns take shapes from the small strips of colored cloth. They stimulated a healthy imagination in me. It took a long time after returning to paint of Vietnam. I was not comfortable with my inner feelings about participating in that war when I saw what happened to me and other Blacks. My illusions of fighting for democracy were shattered."
"I did 'Black Vets' because of the way society viewed African Americans. Even though we were privileged enough to engage in a war, and privileged enough to shed our blood for the good of our country, treatment in the country was very unfair and unfavorable. And I grew up in the South where as an ex-military person, I went into the VA to apply for some benefits and an elderly white couple was sitting there. And as I sat down they looked at me and got up and moved and I’m saying, 'Ya know, is this real? Did I shed some blood on foreign soil–for this?' So it was a sense that we participated honorably as well as every other American, and yet we received those kind of stares, and that kind of treatment as we returned to this country. We were not heroes. What we left with: we were black; what we came back with: we were black. So that piece kind of represents the mood I felt about having served in a war and having to keep the memories of war and having to keep the scars of war, and having not only African Americans but other members of our society that served in the war with scars and with memories. That piece is kind of dedicated to what we sacrificed ourselves for."