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Former Marine and ceramist Ehren Tool exhibits war awareness work at CAF AM

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“The best way to destroy your enemy is to make him your friend.”
– Abraham Lincoln

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LOS ANGELES\, CA — Coinciding with Memoria l Day\, the Craft and Folk Art Museum (CAFAM) presents Ehren Tool: Production or Destruction \, a solo exhibition of ceramist and former Marine\, Ehren Tool. Emblazoned with the haunting imagery of armed conflict\, Tool creates handmade ceramic cups as a medium to address war a nd the violent rhetoric and imagery used to perpetuate it. The exhibition will feature 1\,000 handcrafted cups \, video\, installation\, photographs\, and printed materials.

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Twen ty years after his service in the first Gulf War\, Tool’s firsthand contact with the reality of war is manifest in the thousands of cups he dutifully produces. The cups will be exhibite d at CAFAM in “units” based on military formations of “squads” (13)\, “platoons” (55)\, and “companies” (225)\ , serving as a visual reminder of each Marine within a military unit.

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Each cup is uniquely crafted\, decora ted with ceramic decals of soldiers’ photos\, propaganda\, war porn\, and s culptural reliefs shaped like bombs \, guns\, or medals.

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Recent even ts such as the Occupy movements and the incendiary language of current elec tion campaigns figure strongly in h is new work\, as well as veteran suicides and stories of U.S. Marines desec rating bodies of the deceased. Other imagery alludes to the culpability of video games\, toys\, and pornograph y in desensitizing the public to the emotional toll of war.

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Tool insists that his art is not anti-war\, and prefers to characterize it as “war awareness” work. “It is not my intentio n to teach or preach. It is not pos sible to communicate the pain\, waste\, or intensity of war. My work deals with the uneasy collision\, and col lusion\, between military and civilian cultures\,” he says. 

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By putting people in contact with the imagery of war through an everyday household item\, he hopes to make people think more often about war and it’s conseq uences in a meaningful way. “Letter to President Obama” (2009) is among the several letters he wrote to national and corporate heads urging them to consider the outcome of supporti ng continued war efforts. He also sent a cup to each of these leaders\, whi ch elicited responses from politici ans such as Karl Rove. 

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Though t he cups are functional drinking vessels\, they are also memory objects that  contain unspoken stories about fal len soldiers and wounded survivors. The installation “393” (2004) is a striking display of 393 shattered cups that represent the number of U.S. c ombat casualties during the first year of the second Gulf War. In the video “1.5 Second War Memorial\,” a diff erent cup is shot to pieces every 1.5 seconds\, each signifying a soldier or civilian who has died in a war.

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Tool will be on-site at CAFAM for an artist residency between June 1 and June 15\, where he will set up a ceramic studio in the courtyard to en courage public conversations and sh are his work in progress. He will be giving away all the cups he makes at CAFAM.

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Ehren Tool served with the 1st Marine Division during Desert Shield and Desert Storm. He attende d Pasadena City College and the University of Southern California on the G.I. Bill and received his Master of Fine Arts in Art Practice from the University of California\, Berkeley\, CA in 2004. Tool is a visiting lectur er of ceramics in the Department of Art Practice at UC Berkeley. He has exhibited nationally and internationally\, including the Bongoüt Showroom \, Berlin\, Germany\; Braunstein/Quay Gallery\, San Francisco\, CA\; Oakland Museum of Art\, Oakland\, CA\; Mu seum of Contemporary Craft\, Portla nd\, OR\; College of Wooster Art Museum\, Wooster\, OH\; and most recently at Project Slogan in Aberdeen\, Sco tland. Tool is a 2010 United States Artists Fellow in Crafts and Traditional Arts.

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CAFAM will host an opening reception for Ehren Tool: Pr oduction or Destruction on Sat urday\, May 26 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.

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This exhibition is generously sponsored by The Antonia and Vladim ir Kulaev Cultural Heritag e Fund and The Philip and Muriel Berman Foundation. 

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< strong>Public programming:
There will be several exhibition-rel ated programs and workshops during the run of the exhibition\, including an artist residency at CAFAM with Ehr en Tool. 

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Friday\, June 1 – Friday\, June 15 

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A rtist Residency with Ehren Tool
During museum hours

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Thursday\, June 7

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Etsy Craft Night with Combat Paper Project
7:00 – 9:00 p.m.

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Saturday\, June 9 – Sunday\, June 10
Collaborative Papermaking with Combat Paper Pro ject

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Sunday\, August 19
Artist Talk wi th Ehren Tool
3:00 p.m.

DTEND:20120909 DTSTAMP:20140710T134638 DTSTART:20120526 GEO:34.062177;-118.3555702 LOCATION:Craft and Folk Art Museum\,5814 Wilshire Blvd. \nLos Angeles\, CA 90036 SEQUENCE:0 SUMMARY:Production or Destruction\, Ehren Tool UID:217816 END:VEVENT BEGIN:VEVENT DTEND:20120526T210000 DTSTAMP:20140710T134638 DTSTART:20120526T180000 GEO:34.062177;-118.3555702 LOCATION:Craft and Folk Art Museum\,5814 Wilshire Blvd. \nLos Angeles\, CA 90036 SEQUENCE:0 SUMMARY:Production or Destruction\, Ehren Tool UID:217817 END:VEVENT END:VCALENDAR