Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter.
— Oscar Wilde

Background - The Launch of Bush’s Painting Career

In 2012, a Romanian Hacker known as Guccifer leaked images of George Bush’s first paintings on the Internet. While Guccifer was being arrested and held in prison, Bush’s paintings began to create a buzz in the art world. He undertook a year long project painting portraits of veterans he has met in person through the George W. Bush Center’s Military Service Initiative. Each includes Bush’s own articulation of their military service and struggle with physical or psychological injuries, or both.

This past March the images - currently on display at the George. W. Bush Presidential Center in Texas -  were released in a book, which immediately became a bestseller. The wars that Bush began in Iraq and Afghanistan have continued and expanded and are now in the hands of Donald Trump.  Hundreds of thousands of civilians have been killed and the regions are littered with toxic waste from US munitions. Those of us who deployed are, in many ways still discovering the ways in which the wars have impacted us. And we are the best tellers of our own stories and experiences.

Using our collective creativity and our individual experiences and talents, we hope to become a part of this conversation in an active way. We are more than movie characters, plastic toys, and a former President's hobby. We are people with diverse stories and experiences - and we all have a different and valid way to articulate our relationship with power and presidents, war and healing. 

“Considering how widely he has been criticized for leading the nation into two long-running wars, it’s a bold choice of subject matter—the New Yorker dubbed the works “Painted Atonements” and the Guardian described it as “one of the most complex relationships between artist and subject in recent memory.”
— Sarah Cascone, Artnet.com, March 13 2017