Ross School - Senior Project 2013


Student: Lea Winkler


Mentor: Alexis Martino

Domains: Media

Faculty Grader: Therese Lichtenstein


Documentation of Product   


Title: Military Examined





In today’s world the military has infiltrated into every household either through the media or personal connections. When I heard the story of Lt. Joseph Theinert, a soldier born and raised on Shelter Island, who lost his life overseas. From that point I knew I wanted to further explore the military. With this body of work I examined my own personal feelings on the military and told the stories of individuals. The project has allowed me to explore the meaning and consequences of war. Using portraiture, I documented these subjects with the intention of expressing the emotion behind their commitment to serving our country.


Artist Statement:

I began Military Examined with the exploration of the emotional connectivity involved in active combat operations from an outside perspective. Speaking with people willing to tell their stories, I found a common theme connecting them: sacrifice – and that sacrifice was noble, startling, and necessary. Throughout the process of creating portraiture, the interviewees profoundly impacted me and we established intimate connections. I wondered how and why people could give so much to something greater than themselves, and how military environments can heavily influence the rest of one's life. I shot the portraits in front of stark backgrounds creating an emphasis on the individual -- each subject's story resonates with the viewer.


“So far as we feel sympathy, we feel we are not accomplices to what caused the suffering. Our sympathy proclaims our innocence as well as our impotence."


-Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others


Prior to starting this project, through hearing reports on the news, I was fascinated with the foreign nature of military culture. The stories and people seemed so far away from my life and experiences. After my Grandfather passed away in 2010, the consequences of his WWII military service began to resurface; a life long fight, after being honorably discharged, he silently suffered from PTSD. Influenced by his suffering, I wanted to further examine and understand the intricacies of military life. Through this exploration I was no longer an outsider. Rather than an interested observer, I connected first-hand with participants of war and documented their humanity with a complexity greater than the word “soldier” can convey. Now, reflecting on those I have met, I can better appreciate and understand what it means to be in the military. The personal connections I created humanize the faces of a veiled institution; each story reveals a life masked by the uniform.



Portfolio (Embedded Catalog)


Exhibition & Presentation Summary


Presentation: Military Examined PowerPoint




Presentation Notes (Embedded PDF)




Works Consulted


Works Cited:

Bouvard, Marguerite Guzman. The Invisible Wounds of War: Coming Home from Iraq and Afghanistan. Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 2012. Print.

Castner, Brian. The Long Walk: A Story of War and the Life that follows. N.Y.: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2012. Print.

Dijkstra, Rineke. Rineke Dijkstra. Amsterdam: de Volkskrant, 2011. Print.

Dijkstra, Rineke, and Sandra S. Phillips. Rineke Dijkstra: a retrospective.. New York: Solomon R Guggenheim Foundation, 2012. Print.

Susan, Ellen. Soldier Portraits. N.d. Ellen Susan Photography, Savannah, GA. Soldier Portraits. Web. 17 Sept. 2012.

Swofford, Anthony. Jarhead: a Marine's chronicle of the Gulf War and other battles. New York: Scribner, 2003. Print.