One of the Family
Marty Lucas: Some artists arent comfortable
interpreting their own work; theyd prefer to let the work speak for itself.
But it is interesting to hear about the artistic process. Could you
tell us a bit about how you designed and built Private Art?
Once we talked Art and Rose into telling their whole story online they really got into it. Art contacted people from the 86th Chemical Mortar Battalion that he hadnt talked to in years. Then, Rose said to them, Look at this great tribute that weve built, and they love it. They absolutely love it. Some have become regular visitors to the site, and participants too. One gentleman in particular, Frank Dowell, has become a moderator of our discussion boards. He builds pages and directs people to more information about the 86th and hes one of the biggest fans of the site.
When we first started we had an overview of just four letters. When we decided to expand to include all of the letters, I decided to add them in chronological order. Wed post the letters on the anniversary of the date that they were written. That way we were able to tie in site updates with present day events. That helps get people more involved. Like with the seasons last year around Christmas we put up home movies of Private Art that were made around Christmastime after he had returned home from the war. It really worked well; it tugged at the heartstrings at that time of the year. People relate to it its a very intimate experience because it deals with the everyday family life of a typical person.
A very interesting thing happened. A gentleman named Chall Allred came to our site and he was moved by one story in particular, one about Barbara Sandes, a woman that Private Art knew during the war. He met her in England, when he was billeted with a neighboring family at Port Sunlight and they had a brief romance. You can read many letters from Barbara to Private Art on the site.
Private Art falls out of touch with Barbara even before the war was over, and he never contacted her again. Chall Allred read about Barbara on the site and conducted his own search via the Web. He started e-mailing people, and he found Barbara. Chall hooked Barbara up with the site, and for the first time in years Private Art and Barbara are corresponding. She gave us background information about what shes doing today and pictures that nicely complement the ones we already have on the site.
Too many sites on the Web are just about the Web: how to program HTML,
or who the latest hot designer is, or who landed what contract.
Its just really, really amazing when a Web site goes beyond just whats happening on the Web, when it actually moves people, when it brings people together. We have people who write to us saying theyve been inspired to go up into their own dusty attic and look for the war letters of their family members. So Private Art is inspiring people to tell their own stories.
There were so many stories
from veterans of WWI and the Civil War that have been
lost because nobody could record them. As our WWII veterans get older,
we now have this great medium to preserve their stories for future
I need stuff like Private Art to keep my creative juices going. I found it very rewarding to be able to do something with my talent that so many other people could get so much enjoyment out of. And I think thats one of the reasons I like working on the Web. It keeps giving back to you.
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