The Art of War

Provocative portraits of marines from training shorts to dress uniforms

Combat Skills Training
Oceanside Museum of Art

A provocative portrayal of U.S. Marines like you've never seen before is the whole idea behind a current exhibit at the Oceanside Museum of Art.

Honor: Marine Portraits by Stathis Orphanos is a glimpse inside the private lives of young Marines, according to Danielle Susalla, the museum's assistant director.

"It's awesome, " Susalla said. "It's had a great reception from the public. So far, some Marines have come in, and they're very excited that they are in the museum and portrayed like that. They connect with the subject alot."

Orphanos has also done a series on security guards in Italy, photographing young men in the prime of their life, accoring to Susalla, who said the artist is doing the same thing here. There are never-before-seen images of intimate scenes of hundreds of San Diego Marines on view.

The artist was granted access to top-secret training camps on Camp Pendleton, which allowed him to get a rare look at  the young men in action in threatening environments.

Other graphic images in the show feature shots of combat training camp, where the recruits sometimes show their mental exhaustion.

"You can feel their tiredness," Susalla said.

On April 24 at 2 p.m. at OMA, visitors will get an opportunity to meet Orphano, who will be on hand to discuss the hurdles he overcame to create the exhibition.

OMA opened 12 years ago, but few people know it even exists. Honor: Marine Portraits and other upcoming contemporary art exhibits are designed to change that, according to Susalla. This summer, Defying Expectations: Contemporary Native American Art from San Diego County will defy stereotypes, she added.

Another military-themed exhibit that's ongoing is called Trench Art.

"We want to reach out to the military community," Susalia said. "Oceanside is the home of Camp Pendleton and the families who live here. [OMA wants] them to think of us when they want to go out on the town. We want to be a cultural resource for them."

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