I'm afraid my ideas on this theme far exceeded my capability to showcase them.
About 16 years ago my husband joined the army. Our relationship had begun about three years prior, so I knew him as a civilian first. As he made the transition into military life, I wasn't always nearby and for the first few years found it very difficult to understand this new society which he had joined. At about the same time, I was reading The Hero With a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell. A lightbulb went off in my head that the process by which one is inducted into the military is just a variation of the myriad other rites of passage such as from boy to man, from outsider to insider, from maiden to mother, from neophyte to master, etc.
And that is what I wanted to express: the metamorphosis from civilian to soldier. I found it a lot easier to say than to do though. After many fits and starts, I finally determined that the essence of the change is the breaking down of the civilian life and the subsequent building up of the military one (with it's requisite mores, rites, hierarchies, and language).
The denim background represents the civilian life, the worn areas are where it's breaking down. On top of that is a soldier created from "building blocks." Those blocks are the fabric of army uniforms spanning the past 16 years. I suspect that without the description it would be hard to divine anything other than a portrait of a soldier though. Although I wish I could have expressed my ideas more directly, I am quite pleased with how well the portrait reads. It was an interesting exercise to try to convey a recognizable type of person with the least amount of squares.
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