Jasmine Clark

Jasmine Clark is a photographer currently living and working in Chicago, Illinois. Born in 1986, Clark is the daughter of two United States Marines and grew up in a military community in Twentynine Palms, California (MCAGCC). Clark received her BFA in Photography from California State University, Long Beach in 2010 and her MFA in Photography from Columbia College Chicago in 2016. Clark is interested in the dichotomy between military and American culture. The influence of the United States Military reaches far beyond the industrialized, mass-produced machines, such as drones and Long Range Strike – Bombers. The iconography of military and American culture can be found in every city, ‘every statehouse’, reinforcing the idea of the military complex that Dwight D. Eisenhower warned about in his 1961 speech. She recently self-published a book titled, After Eisenhower.

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My photographic work is directly shaped by my upbringing in a conservative military community in Twentynine Palms, California. Both of my parents served in the United States Marines Corps. My own perspective on the military is very complicated, and that has spurred my curiosity about the military’s role in American life.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned about the growing power of the military and the military industrial complex in his 1961 farewell address. Eisenhower’s speech provides the framework for this project. Was he correct? My work explores the signs and clues that reveal the influence of the military in American life and also the indications of American attitudes toward the military.

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In many American places, especially areas surrounding military bases, military culture is an inseparable part of the landscape. One can see many signals of how the military is intertwined in the established American patriotic, national and Christian identity. Support for the military and veterans is simplified and combined with complex and polarizing issues such as religion, race, class, patriotism, gun control through the use of symbols and iconography. I find the saturation of these oversimplified messages problematic, however I am also fascinated by what they reveal. These messages, in both public and private spaces, are meant to have clear meanings, but these places and artifacts suggest other, more problematic truths about American life and our relationship to our military.

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To view more of Jasmine’s work, visit her website.