Sandra Boyd: ‘Image Nation’ veterans program makes a difference | TheUnion.com

Sandra Boyd: ‘Image Nation’ veterans program makes a difference

Other Voices
Sandra Boyd

I am deeply saddened to read of the loss of funding to Image Nation by the California Arts Council reported by The Union on Aug. 23.

I am one of the participants of the first group of Image Nation begun in September 2015. I am also a U.S. Army veteran who served during the "post-fall-of-Saigon" era. This is a huge loss to Nevada County and our local veterans.

I can't speak highly enough of Image Nation, the wonderful project led by nationally renowned photographer Michael Llewellyn under the umbrella of Nevada County Arts Council. I do understand and respect that the California Arts Council needs to pay due diligence in the management of public funds while, on the other hand, what is clearly an administrative oversight which NCArts has wholeheartedly accepted responsibility for.

To be tarred with "misrepresentation" — even if "unintentional" — is devastating for a rural arts council doing such good work across so many fields.

The benefits of Image Nation are many:

1. It brings together veterans of all ages to participate in the learning of the art of photography as expression.

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2. Bringing veterans together is a positive learning environment which allows for each member to connect with others who have gone through the unique experience of service to our country.

3. It presents veterans to our community in a whole new and positive way, bringing about discussion and attention to understanding who they are and how they have contributed to our country and the impact of their service.

One final thought is my personal experience with Image Nation: I was always proud of my service, but unfortunately during that time it was not considered a positive choice, especially for women. As such I did not speak of my service or even include it on my resume, as I was often shamed if it was brought up. Thanks to Image Nation, I have felt empowered and was able to present, in an open forum, my military background.

I truly hope that — in due course — this project might continue with new funding, and I will do my part to garner support for this amazing project. Certainly, my observation of Nevada County Arts Council's leadership under Eliza Tudor, in partnership with Welcome Home Vets, is that integrity will shine through for all of us.

Sandra Boyd lives in Grass Valley.

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