Make Art, not War...
By Deanna Knutson
A soldier and an artist take risks and are confident in what they do. They imagine their strategy, see in their head what they’re going to do, and plan what should happen. A soldier and an artist have a battlefield. It could be bloody and loud right in front of their eyes, or it could be in their mind, filling it with self doubt. And they also have fears of the unknown. What will be the outcome even if they think they know?
Jackson Lain is one who risks, one who plans, and one who knows what a battlefield looks like. He is a soldier and an artist.
Jackson’s longing to join the Marines began when he was a child. During his senior year in Kenny Lake School Jackson was all military – wanting to join after graduation in 2001, but his parents wanted him to attend a year of college to see what other options he had. Taking that advice, Jackson traveled to Utah for one year of school, knowing that after that year he wouldn’t be returning so he could pursue his dream. In the summer of 2002, Jackson enlisted in the Marine Corps and had to wait five months to begin his training. Jackson spent those months working out and reading up on what one could expect in boot camp. “It’s anticipating the day of being born into the Marine Corps,” he said.
November 11, 2002 was a big day for Jackson - he was finally accepted into the Marines. But first he had to endure three months of basic training, and another three months of school before he deployed in August. Jackson was only 19 years old and he wasn’t even the youngest guy there. Jack thought about the “rumors and anticipation of what could be coming,” although to him it was exciting and something he wanted to do. Jackson traveled all around – during his first deployment as a rifleman he went to Iraq and Africa. His second deployment to Babel and Baghdad as a Team Leader was a real gratifying experience. At 22, Jackson went on a third deployment to Iraq as a squad leader for seven months; after this deployment his enlistment was over. It was an emotional time for him. “The friendships you form in those four years are strong.”
Afterwards, Jackson decided that he needed to clear his head, so he, his dad, brother, and a few fellow Marines traveled to Mexico. They surfed and camped out, experiences Jackson described as “awesome!” However, the month-long journey ended in near tragedy when Jackson and his friends were injured in a car wreck. This event changed Jackson’s future. He recovered for about one year in and out of the hospital. “I was bored out of my mind,” so he began thinking about the military again. He was actually called back up and was finally excited about something, until he failed his physical because of the injuries he received in the car wreck. “I wasn’t goin’ anywhere,” but Jackson really wanted to do something, so he bought a ticket to Mongolia. On his spontaneous two-month trip, Jackson began riding horses, trekked as much as he could, and also rode camels.
Jackson’s thoughts slowly drifted down a different path. Before the car wreck he had forgotten about art – but growing up he was always sketching, and Mrs. Van Wyhe’s art class in high school was the first he took. But during college he only managed one picture, and then it was gone. Anything artistic was out of his mind until the car wreck. Jackson’s girlfriend was also an artist, and she inspired him to take up art once again. He is now going to a five-year program in San Francisco. Jackson has developed his style; he listens to classical music for inspiration, and tries to get the anatomy right with all the details in his paintings. Jackson also says that having life experience helps with anything, in this case it’s his art, but whatever Jackson does he can do it because he knows he can.
Jackson’s goal this summer was to paint every day. He also has dreams – to be in galleries and to have his own website.
‘Make art not war’ describes Jackson perfectly. He was a soldier who held a gun, now he’s an artist who holds a paintbrush. He was a soldier who knew the face of danger, and is now an artist who can draw a face with ease. Jackson Lain is a hero to our country and a hero in our hearts.