Art exhibit sharing stories from women veterans to be displayed at Stritch
I Am Not Invisible, a traveling exhibit created in a partnership between the War Memorial Center and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Center for Women Veterans, will be on display at Cardinal Stritch University from March 21 through March 31.
The exhibit features local women veterans and current military personnel who have served in every branch and from every era from World War II through the present. The exhibit shares biographies that provide an “honest look at what it means to serve, and the opportunities open to women – and the challenges they face – in the U.S. military.”
I Am Not Invisible started as an exhibit featuring 20 photographs of women veterans in Oregon in 2017. Since then, photos have been taken of nearly 4,000 women veterans from all 50 states and Puerto Rico and 27 tribal nations. Stritch alumnus, Army veteran and Education Program Director at the War Memorial Center Sean Clark, ‘13 was instrumental in bringing the exhibit to campus.
Clark wanted the exhibit to come to Stritch for two reasons.
“I wanted to dispel the notion that you have to be ‘broken’ to serve your country. These women have families, a lot of them are mothers, but they wanted to serve something bigger than themselves. This exhibit reflects on their military experience, but it also tells the story of the sacrifices their families made as well.”
As a Stritch alumnus, Clark also wants students to know that serving the country is an option for them.
“Most people know about serving and then going back to get their degree, but not a lot of people think about serving after they’ve graduated,” Clark said. “Graduation is right around the corner and I wanted students to take in these women’s stories and see that basically every civilian job exists in the military as well. Plus, there’s the bonus of student loan debt disappearing.”
Wisconsin is home to 30,000 women veterans, and 250 of them have had their stories shared through I Am Not Invisible. Two of those 250 are Stritch alumnae Dr. Berdie Cowser, ’07, ’18, and Tiffany Koehler, ’06. Cowser served in the U.S. Army Reserve from 1993 to 2009, and Koehler served in the U.S. Army from 1990 to 2004.
In fact, Koehler was instrumental in bringing I Am Not Invisible to Wisconsin. After hearing about Oregon’s project in 2018, she reached out to a photographer and contacted veterans from all branches and eras.
In the five years since, I Am Not Invisible has been displayed all over the state. It’s been featured in local libraries, senior centers and city halls as well as at places like Lambeau Field, American Family Field and Fiserv Forum.
“I wanted to serve the greater good, something higher than myself,” Koehler said. “I wanted to do something special.”
Cowser and Koehler visited the exhibit in the Northwestern Mutual Art Gallery on March 22 for a special reception. View their remarks here.