New exhibit at Cedarville University honors veterans

Jim Mellick’s exhibit “Wounded Warrior Dogs and Other Parables,” consisting of wooden sculptures of canines with prosthetic limbs allegorizing the plight of wounded veterans by depicting man’s best friend, continues through Nov. 11 in the Stevens Student Center at Cedarville University, 251 N. Main St., Cedarville.

After winning the $200,000 grand prize by popular vote at Art Prize 2016 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the Wounded Warrior Dogs have toured the country while being exhibited in most of the major military museums in the eastern United States. Each dog in the series bears an injury – a missing leg, or a prosthesis – and each dog’s collar displays a service ribbon representing its respective war.

Credit: CONTRIBUTED

Credit: CONTRIBUTED

“In 2015, I was moved by the images of veterans returning from Iraq and then Afghanistan with amputations from the new warfare of roadside bombs and IEDs,” said Mellick, in a release.” I wanted to remind people that military service and freedom come with a price, and we must not forget those veterans who sacrificed physical and mental health.”

Mellick’s pieces require 160 to 250 hours to sculpt. He employs six types of wood for different breeds, representing different wars from World War II to the global war on terror. The dogs are all life-sized or larger.

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His latest series of sculptures, “K9 War Stories,” honors the sacrifice of certain K9 teams.

“Giving form to these stories had a healing effect on the surviving handlers and was a blessing to the surviving families,” Mellick said. “I try to meet family members at museums where the story of their sacrifice is being told.”

Credit: CONTRIBUTED

Credit: CONTRIBUTED

Cedarville’s exhibit will be the last chance to view the Wounded Warrior Dogs locally as Florida’s new Marco Island Art Museum has purchased the sculptures, and it will become the permanent central exhibit beginning March 2023.

“The tears, the hugs and handshakes and the breaking of attendance records have shown that I’ve reached people profoundly,” said Mellick. “I’ve realized that the Wounded Warrior Dogs are more than a project – they are a mission.”

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Mellick, the recipient of Cedarville’s faculty scholarship award in 2012-2013, retired from teaching studio art at Cedarville University in 2014. He will attend the closing reception on Nov. 11 to discuss his work.

For more information, contact the Stevens Student Center Information Desk at 937-766-7787 or visit www.cedarville.edu.

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