An Opportunity for Dialogue
The War Ink virtual exhibit is a partnership between the Contra Costa County Library, a collective of California's major library systems, and Jason Deitch, a former Army medic and military sociologist.
Libraries have a duty to provide resources to all citizens, but place special emphasis on serving our returning veterans - a segment of our community that can be overlooked. Libraries also collect the stories that tell us who we are as a society. The experiences of combat veterans returning home have serious cultural significance. They need to be told.
In contemplating this need, the project creators recognized that the striking visual medium of tattoo art would be the ideal entry point to exploring veterans' experiences. The tattoos document experiences, memorialize fallen comrades, and express emotional response. They capture the attention, making viewers want to learn more and listen longer.
About the creators
Chris's many roles on War Ink include project director, grant writer, and co-curator. He and Jason shared responsibilities of recruiting participants for the project across the entire state of California.
Chris's work on this project is an outgrowth of his role as senior manager at Contra Costa County Library. He's a Eureka! Fellow, a two-time California Library Association speaker, a Public Library Association speaker, and a consultant for Infopeople. Chris earned an MLIS from San Jose State University, and currently attends the University of San Francisco for his Masters in Public Administration.
"As a community, we face problems that are bigger than any single agency can address. Finding solutions is a collective effort. In War Ink we've brought together a diverse group to address the lack of public cohesion experienced by veterans. In an ideal world, we would all recognize each other as rich and complex people, each deserving of respect and compassion."
Jason is a US Army veteran, a social researcher, and a veteran advocate. He brought his personal and professional experience to the curation of War Ink. He also served as the primary recruiter for and liaison to the veteran community.
Apart from War Ink, Jason is part of the Program in Rehabilitative Neuroscience, which is jointly run by the University of California, Berkeley and the VA Medical Centers of Martinez and San Francisco. He also is a consultant to Joining Forces, a White House initiative to better assist veterans in their transition home. Jason received both his undergraduate and graduate degrees from University of California, Berkeley.
"Human beings need community. In order to have community, you must have meaningful relationships. In order to have meaningful relationships, you must establish meaningful communication built on shared understanding. Communication has broken down between military and civilian cultures. Without shared understanding, the men and women who have served cannot come all the way home."
Institute of Museum and Library Services
War Ink was supported in part by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act, administered in California by the State Librarian.
Pacific Library Partnership
Funded in part by an Innovation Grant from the Pacific Library Partnership.
This project was made possible with support from Cal Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Eureka! Leadership Institute
War Ink was supported by a state-wide network of Eureka! Fellows.
Audio Recording Partner
Interviews were recorded by StoryCorps, a national nonprofit whose mission is to provide people of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, preserve, and share their stories. Each week, millions of people listen to StoryCorps' award-winning broadcasts on NPR's Morning Edition. StoryCorps has published three books: Listening Is an Act of Love, Mom.: A Celebration of Mothers from StoryCorps, and All There Is: Love Stories from StoryCorps-all of which are New York Times bestsellers.
For more information, or to listen to stories online, visit storycorps.org.