WE THE PEOPLE is a new collection of large-scale watercolor painting portraits of veterans in America. Artist Mary Whyte painted portraits of current-day veterans, showing what it means to be an American veteran today. More than seven years in the making, WE THE PEOPLE took her across the United States to meet men and women of all ages and from all walks of life, and paint some of our country’s truest patriots reintegrating back into society and the workforce after serving our nation. The art exhibition will debut October 25, 2019, in Charleston, South Carolina, before a national museum tour.
Mary Whyte’s Story and Mission:
Several years ago, I set out on a project to paint the face of America. What was an exercise to create 50 portraits turned into an all-consuming mission to uphold and honor the hidden heroes of our country. The people I painted, each a military veteran, represent all that is good and right about our nation. The taxi driver, schoolteacher, dairy farmer, rancher and astronaut, among others, are a collective symbol of the pursuit of peace and the freedom in which this country was founded. Whether they live in a house on the hill or under a tarp in the woods, all of these men and women once signed a blank check on the value of their life and handed it to the American people.
The paintings took seven years to complete. There were times that I didn’t know if I would have the funds to continue, as there were no backers for the project. Not to be deterred by sound judgment or common sense, I kept going.
What I discovered in my travels across America was an astonishingly beautiful country as well as an extraordinary group of men and women willing to do whatever it would take to preserve its abundance of blessings. I asked every veteran I met what they thought was the best part of being in the military, and unequivocally almost everyone answered that serving our country made them a better person.
The veterans I selected from each of the 50 states came from all walks of life. Most served unheralded though diligently, and then returned to live quietly with their families in the land they defended. Each represents the diversity, challenges and realities of living in America today. My ultimate hope is that everyone who comes will see whether people will find themselves in the paintings.