Charles Kapsner painting honors women in the Minnesota National Guard
The painting will be on display for the Memorial Day program, which begins at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, May 28, at the Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery in Little Falls.
LITTLE FALLS — A painting by Charles Kapsner honoring women in the Minnesota National Guard will be on display for the Memorial Day program at the Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery in Little Falls.
The program begins with an instrumental music concert at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, May 28, at the cemetery, 15550 Highway 115.
Kapsner, Fort Ripley, said the 4 foot by 5 foot painting “Women on Guard,” which was on display at the state Capitol will go to the Minnesota Military Museum. The painting showcases five women who actively serve in the Minnesota National Guard.
“The models whose stories are depicted include Specialist Ashley Barber, Captain Katie Morsch, 1st Sgt Takeisha Hunt, 1st Sgt Jessica Stiffarm and Staff Sgt. Mahsima Alkamooneh,” Kapsner stated on his website. “It was an honor to spend time with them, to gain insights into their incredibly rich lives, and I am grateful to each of them for their dedication and commitment to this project.”
The painting was completed in 2022.
The Minnesota National Guard reported the painting, “conveys their multi-layered, multi-modal identities” as members of the Minnesota National Guard “and their roles aside from the Guard — not separate from one another but melded together.”
“The painting weaves together the stories of five women of Hispanic, African, Iranian, European and Native American descent who will be depicted in their duty uniform, dress uniform, or civilian work uniform,” the Minnesota National Guard stated in an article about the project. “Additionally, the composition will include vignettes of their hobbies and culture.”
The “Women on Guard” project followed a decade-long project where Kapsner honored each branch of the military on an 8-by-10-foot canvas depicting the services and their histories in his oil paintings.
“The perfect follow up to the five big paintings at the cemetery would be to talk about the cultural and ethnic diversity of women in the Minnesota National Guard,” Kapsner said in a Minnesota National Guard article about the “Women on Guard” project.
The project to depict the military service through a series of paintings for the committal hall was first announced in 2009 and completed in 2019. The five paintings for the Army , Navy , Marine Corps , Coast Guard with an homage to the Merchant Marine, and Air Force hang in the Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery ’s committal hall north of Little Falls.
Kapsner considers each painting to be an allegorical piece, telling a story and using those symbolic figures to examine greater truths. Kapsner conducted extensive research for the project.
The idea for the art project started with Gordon Gerling, former state representative from Little Falls. Gerling, an Air Force veteran, wanted to see a veterans memorial at the site. A conversation with Kapsner led to the art effort.
Kapsner, long noted for his fresco work , combined decades of art experience and extensive research and travel for each military branch. The son of a World War II veteran, Kapsner tapped into his own appreciation of history and his family background for the effort.
A second Kapsner painting titled, “The Best of Them” will also be on display for the Memorial Day program. Kapsner said this painting was commissioned by a client to honor their father, a Vietnam War veteran.
“I am also appreciative of the FY 2022 support of a Creative Support for Individuals grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund,” Kapsner stated on his website. “This activity was also made possible, in part, by the Five Wings Arts Council Individual Artist Grant Award with funding from the McKnight Foundation.”