By Kierra Pixler, Managing Editor
Many artists convey their emotions through their artwork and others do it for first-hand participants. Steve Carter, a 27-year veteran does both. Having traveled the world while enlisted, he came across various solders who held a story that had not been told yet. Through sculptures, Carter aimed to bring that emotion to life.
“I have a degree in Fine Arts and it’s in painting, so I painted for about 15 years,” Carter said. “I got tired of that, so I moved onto making knives for about 10 years. That wasn’t really a family-friendly activity. It consisted of a lot of grinding hot steel and sharp things laying around, so I stopped doing that and began doing sculptures.”
Noticing that some of the then art lacked capturing the emotional impact of what it was like to be in the military, Carter wanted to relay those feelings, while also making his art cost effective for the soldiers.
“I was trying to figure out a way of being able to tell our story and do it in a way that was cost effective and something that they had access to,” Carter said. “For me, it was much more of a service. I don’t think I ever made any money off of it, it was just a way of telling a story through art. All of the solders that I ran into had a story, each one of them. Some of the statues were my idea, some were the ideas of other people. Every one of them holds a specific story, place and time that that thing happened and that’s what I was trying to do.”
While listening to the experience of a friend who was a Chaplain in the military, his idea began to come to fruition.
“He was telling me about one of his experience in Desert Storm,” Carter said. “The Chaplain has three core competencies. Nurture the living, care of casualties and honor the dead and as he was telling the story were he was in combat, it made me realize that when it says “Care for the wounded and honor the dead,” and even “Nurture the living,” when you’re in a combat environment, the emotional impact of the people that are dong that is enormous. The Chaplains are caregivers, the medics are caregivers. Their story and the impact that’s on them is enormous and that’s what I was really trying to capture.”
Part of what makes Carter’s art so meaningful is the detail that he puts into it. From head to toe, Carter keeps each individual story in mind when sculpting and makes it his goal to evoke certain emotions from both the solider and spectator.
“The pieces that I do, if you look close enough, you can date them to six months as to when that specific operation took place,” Carter said. “Based off of the body armor, the gear they’re carrying, the way their weapons are configured. The boots that they have on and the tread on them. To be able to capture all of that detail, so that when they look at it, they can look at it and go “Oh yeah, that was my experience.”
Carter’s art can be found at My Giving Tree Gift Shop and Art Gallery in downtown Belton. Several of his life-size sculptures can also be found on Fort Hood.