CCAD Alumna Uses Paintings to Remember and Heal

LCpl William Brett Wightman, LCpl Edward Schroeder II, and LCpl Grant Fraser painted in Miller's work

Eight life-size portraits painted by a CCAD alumna began touring in 2008 and will make their way to the Superdome in New Orleans in December 2011.

The Eyes of Freedom: the Lima Company Memorial honors those who have fallen in service. The paintings were completed by Anita Miller (CCAD 1991-1999) and took her more than two years to complete.

Throughout the process of painting, Miller was visited by members of the families of the fallen men. Each helping her stretch canvas or mix colors, all creating their own way to grieve and be a part of the memorial’s process.

“My paintings were made for the men and their families to help them heal and now it is helping more people who have similar emotions and experiences,” Miller said.

The vision for the memorial began in an instant for Miller. She was awoken at 3 a.m. one night with the vision of the exhibition and the work she had to do.

She imagined canvases arranged in a circle, depicting the young men. Their boots and letters from loved ones would be laying on the ground within the Statehouse rotunda.The second part of Miller’s vision was seeing the entire exhibition picked up and moved, meaning she had to make it a traveling memorial.

“I had heard about the boys that were killed and it tore my heart,” Miller said. “I wanted to help and this dream came to me as my answer.”

Picture taken during the 2008 opening in the Ohio State Courthouse

After years of painting and research, Miller finished the memorial in May 2008. It was unveiled at the Ohio the Statehouse during memorial weekend. Miller worked up until the last days of the opening confessing the paint was barely dry by the time they were displayed.

Every painted soldier had their family and friends there as part of the unveiling. There were a few thousand people also in attendance throughout the day and it was broadcast overseas to the troops.

“Seeing the finished paintings in the statehouse was an intense experience for me. All the hard work was worth it to see everything completed and displayed just as I had imaged,” Miller said.

The memorial will continue touring with Mike Durant as the lead supervisor. Durant was a friend to the men depicted in the memorial and served with many of them in the Marines.

To find out more on the memorial including background and its scheduled dates for touring, visit their website by clicking here.