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Vietnam combat artist James Pollock to visit Dakota State University

October 16, 2018

As technology has evolved artists have expanded their mediums, creating digital art with computers, software, and a stylus. However, just a few decades ago hand drawings and paintings were being used to preserve history, even during moments such as the Vietnam War.

South Dakota artist James Pollock was one of 46 artists who sketched and painted scenes of Vietnam as part of the U.S. Army Vietnam Combat Art Program. Now Pollock is sharing his experience by working with the South Dakota Humanities Council, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. He will visit Dakota State University on Tuesday, Oct. 23, meeting with students during the day and with students and the public from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the Ruth Habeger Science Center Auditorium.

“It’s a really great way to have him speak about such a unique situation that a lot of people don’t know about,” said Alan Montgomery, DSU professor of art. “During that time film footage was what people were used to seeing, but they’ve probably never seen drawings that were made on sight of things he witnessed, as they were employed to do.”

Montgomery wanted Pollock to visit campus to share his experiences as an artist during and after the war.

“I think this is another opportunity for people to see this iconic South Dakota-born person who has this body of work he’s produced as a person who likes to make art,” Montgomery said.

After working as an army combat artist in Vietnam, Pollock went on to work as a commercial artist in graphics. He currently does plein air painting, which involves painting landscapes and scenery while in the outdoors.

Pollock will meet with all interested students over the noon hour on Tuesday, Oct. 23 in the Karl Mundt Library, 200SW, the open learning commons on second floor. He will be sharing his sketchbooks with the students. Additionally, film students will interview Pollock to archive his visit to DSU on Beadle Scholar.