Steve Mumford traveled to Iraq several times to chronicle the war as a painter and illustrator. He was riding in a tank during a mission in Baquba when "the vehicle I was in was hit with two rocket-propelled grenades ... Things like that would sometimes happen and they were not, as it turned out, really useful – you couldn't possibly hold a pen or a pencil straight during that kind of thing."
Mumford traces his desire to chronicle military life to the paintings Winslow Homer made during the Civil War. Homer is best remembered now for seascapes and images of children playing, but he made his name as a correspondent for Harper's Weekly with images like Rainy Day in Camp, which Mumford had seen as a young artist visiting the Metropolitan Museum.
In Iraq, Mumford was constantly mindful of Homer's approach to his Civil War paintings. "It was exactly that insistence that he had on being true to not just what he saw, but to the spirit of what he saw, that makes the work seem so contemporary today. And it's certainly something that I strive for."
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Slideshow: Illustrating War
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