TCU Magazine: Army Survival Art Inspires Project

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Subjects of 1957 Army drawings find new life in Nicholas Bontrager’s work.

Nicholas Bontrager’s modern adaptation (left, courtesy of Nicholas Bontrager) and the original 1957 U.S. Army survival manual’s graphic for insulating socks (right, Public Domain).

Nicholas Bontrager’s modern adaptation (left, courtesy of Nicholas Bontrager) and the original 1957 U.S. Army survival manual’s graphic for insulating socks (right, Public Domain).

 

One day in 2009, Nicholas Bontrager pulled a 1957 edition of Department of the Army Field Manual 21-76 from a bookstore shelf. Its pages sparked an idea that merged two of his passions: the use of graphics and text as teaching tools, and the preservation of those tools with replicas or facsimiles.

Bontrager has narrowed “Survival” project to 25 illustrations from the 250-page manual, some of which he will re-create as sculptures or film clips. He hopes to receive a grant to finish and exhibit the collection in late 2018. He wants to show viewers the way large organizations “use artwork to teach or educate” and “the intertextual link between contemporary art and the history of graphic training aids.”

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