Haunting Images Comprise 'A Soldier’s View: A Pictorial Reflection of the War in Iraq': Brooks Hosts Exhibit by Student, Former Soldier

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In 2004, the U.S. Army 425th Civil Affairs Battalion from Santa Barbara was deployed to Iraq. Among those tasked to complete a tour of duty was Jeff DelaCruz, then a student at Brooks Institute of Photography. DelaCruz has returned to Santa Barbara to continue pursuing his Bachelor’s degree in Professional Photography and is presenting a retrospective of his time in Iraq -- A Soldier’s View: A Pictorial Reflection of the War in Iraq -- at the Brooks Institute Cota Street Campus and Gallery, 27 E. Cota, in Santa Barbara.

In 2004, the U.S. Army 425th Civil Affairs Battalion from Santa Barbara was deployed to Iraq. Among those tasked to complete a tour of duty was Jeff DelaCruz, then a student at Brooks Institute of Photography. With active duty status as an Army Civil Affairs sergeant, the new solider had a front-line view of the impact of war and, as photographer, he had the intuition and ability to try and capture it in pictures. DelaCruz – who has returned to Santa Barbara to continue pursuing his Bachelor's degree in Professional Photography -- will introduce a retrospective of his time in Iraq, A Soldier's View: A Pictorial Reflection of the War in Iraq, at the Brooks Institute Cota Street Campus and Gallery, 27 E. Cota, in Santa Barbara. Reservations are not required for the exhibit, reception and presentation by DelaCruz, which will take place on Friday, November 10, from 5 to 7 p.m.. The show will remain open through Friday, December 22, 2006.

In a mission statement describing his work, DelaCruz states, "This show defines for me those complexities that, as a young solider in Iraq, range from touching to horrific. It is the aim of this show to compel viewers to examine the complexities that I experienced, not portrayed by the mainstream media, in hopes of placing the viewers' opinions in a state of reality."

During his tour in Iraq, the prolific photographer shot more than 160 rolls of film, visually journaling his experiences. His images run the gamut from optimistic depictions of the rebuilding efforts, to the frightening and demoralized lives of Iraqi people. As a soldier involved in reconstruction projects, DelaCruz had a unique viewpoint on the impact of war on infrastructure, economy and lives young and old. And, as an independent photographer -- one not encumbered by the demands of traditional news media -- he had the opportunity to catalog and explore real stories on film.

"The common thread of my work all leads back to how war has affected both the lives of the Iraqi people and the soldiers who worked with them," says DelaCruz. It clearly deeply affected him, and it is this feeling that exudes from his well-organized retrospective of black and white photographs. Even in pictures that present a straightforward or positive image -- an average Iraqi family standing together in front of a house or a soldier fishing in the tranquil environment of a pond that is part of what were Saddam Hussein's private hunting grounds -- there is a disturbing undercurrent that pervades every photograph.

But, demurs DelaCruz, "The war in Iraq should not be looked at as simply good or bad. It should be seen as a series of constantly evolving in-betweens that can simultaneously be good, bad, beautiful and terrifying." That said, those to whom he has presented the show have often expressed the same comment about the war, he says. "The comment I get the most is that it ... the war ... is sad."

While a student and prior to being called for army service, DelaCruz and a partner owned the Santa Barbara-based commercial photography firm DeLaQuirk Photography. His work has appeared in a number of publications, including GQ, Santa Barbara Magazine, European Kitchen & Bath and CMYK Magazine, and has been purchased by Penguin Books for a book cover. With his graduation from Brooks Institute pending, he is thinking about moving to Chicago, Illinois. He admits that his perspectives about work and life have changed somewhat, post-Iraq, and what he would like to do is "settle down a little bit."

In the meantime, DelaCruz is working hard -- like so many veterans, civilians and soldiers -- to rediscover and reinvent a life that has been forever changed. Perhaps in the process, through his photography, he will help others come to a better awareness of what war is and that, in reality, it changes the world for all of us. For more information on Jeff DelaCruz, visit http://www.jeffdelacruzphotography.com

About Brooks Institute

Brooks Institute of Photography recently celebrated its 60th year of educating students in the visual media. With its campuses in Santa Barbara and Ventura, California, (which include two sound stages for filmmaking), the school has more than 2200 students pursuing Masters, Bachelors, Associates and diploma programs in fields including professional photography, visual journalism, film and video production and visual communication. Brooks' graduates are visible nationally and internationally, working for distinguished organizations including National Geographic, Smithsonian, Los Angeles Times and other national media outlets, including Hallmark Publishing, Cousteau Society, HBO, Kodak and other industry leaders in visual media fields.

For more information about Brooks Institute and the school's Film & Video Production program, visit http://www.brooks.edu

Contact:

Carla White

Brooks Institute

(619) 318-5347

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