Daily media accounts remind us that America is at war in the Middle East & that we have been for a decade. For most Americans this is an abstract idea lacking the tangible reality of weapons & death. Being thus removed from the hardships of a war that is very much a reality makes most Americans figuratively unarmed. Yet for Clayton Cotterell the war has been an immediate concern because his bother, Ian, joined the military shortly after Clayton began actively photographing him in 2007. By virtue of this timing, a body of work that was about family relations also became an investigation into the current generation of young Americans crossing the gap between childhood & adulthood in a time of war. Even so, the trappings of patriotism & war are only hinted at in these photographs. Apart from the camouflage of his uniform & body armor, Ian comes before the camera lacking the weapons of war. In this, he is literally unarmed. More profound, however, is the quiet, unarmed demeanor with which he faces the camera up to the last photograph. Here he is shirtless & looking askance. The tattoo on his chest, which is the ultimate mark of transition, says little about the destruction of war & a lot about life, declaring in reverse that art saves. - Myles Haselhorst

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(two months before deployment) (home on leave from Afghanistan)