This project centers around my grandfather’s decision to enlist in the Vietnam War and its lasting impact on our family. Jerome Cleveland Hilton joined the war with the intention of visiting the site where his uncle, Cleveland Foster, passed away. While in combat, Hilton was hit by a bullet shard and was presumed dead. The Army transported his body back to the United States, but during the flight, he miraculously woke up from a coma, unbeknownst to anyone. This divine second chance was later derailed by hardship. During his time overseas, he developed a drug addiction, a common occurrence among soldiers. Five years after returning home, he participated in an armed robbery in pursuit of drugs to feed his habit. Unfortunately, one of his accomplices murdered the victim, and my grandfather was sentenced to 5 years in prison. The severe trauma he endured affected not only him but also my father, myself, and my siblings.
This project not only explores my grandfather’s life but also how his choices and outcomes deeply impacted our family and contributed to years of generational trauma. I have turned to my art practice as an avenue for healing. By creating a visual narrative through a series of images and screen prints, I hope to share my family’s story while encouraging viewers to reflect on and work through their own familial traumas.
Credit: Khidr Joseph, Jungle Warfare 42" х 63" Archival Print 2023
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