Toy Soldiers was a semester long exploration in Spring 2009 while I was a design student at Lund University in Sweden.
In summer 2008 I went to visit some relatives in New Jersey. My cousin had just been given some green army men toys- small green injection molded figurines that stand about 5cm tall. He had been playing with them in the yard and they camouflaged perfectly with the grass. He left them in the yard before moving on to play with his next toy. When I walked outside barefoot later, I heard a crunch and felt a sharp pain run up my leg. I had stepped on one of these plastic soldiers who laid fallen in the yard. Once the initial frustration had passed, an idea sparked in my mind. I began to think about how often children discard toys, not just in the yard, but they forget toys and outgrow them.
Shocked at the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) on soldiers returning home from war, as well as my father's struggle with depression after years of serving as a police officer, I aimed to create something to visually represent the degradation that can occur in one's mind after witnessing horrific events. Although this is a subject rarely spoken about, there has been an increase in diagnoses within the last decade of PTSD within the military community. There is a striking resemblance to children's treatment of these toys inspired by violence, and society's treatment of returning veterans.
The finished project is an unfired clay model of a soldier. Over time, the sculpture degrades. It is meant to be subtle in its expression, and hopefully will spark one discussion of this unfortunate phenomenon.