Dolce et Decorum est, Pro Patria Mori
71" x 78"
oil on canvas
2003 & 2013
Dolce et Decorum est, Pro Patria Mori was painted in 2003, my response to Bush’s “Operation Iraqi Freedom”, a war that may not have ever occurred if not for the First World War. The spoils of WWI resulted in an artificial slicing and dicing of the Middle East, which to this day is a source for the violence within the region. Awareness of this history inspired me to use the antique photo of five young boys, dressed as WWI soldiers, to contextualize the meaning of Bush’s Iraq war. To remember the 100-year anniversary of the First World War Armistice, I post this painting and link the powerful verse of Wilfred Owen’s poem.
Dolce et Decorum est, Pro Patria Mori is a line from the Roman lyrical poet Horace’s Odes (III.2.13). The line can be roughly translated into English as: “It is sweet and right to die for your country.” Wilfred Edward Salter Owen (1893-1918) used Horace’s line in his famous WWI poem of the same title.
Dolce et Decorum est, Pro Patria Mori was first exhibited in "Grace Hartigan’s Choice: Athena’s Daughters" 2004-2005 at Maryland Art Place (MAP) Baltimore, MD, Juror: Grace Hartigan. It was reworked in 2013.
Jessica Damen, dubbed the “Lewis Carroll of Baltimore” by renowned artist, Grace Hartigan, is known for her narrative, oil and ink brush paintings. Inspired by myth, fairytale, verse and the mythic in contemporary events, her paintings were described by Glenn McNatt, Baltimore Sun Art Critic, as “...surreal, sometimes nightmarish scenes of childhood anxiety that seem to hover just outside the neat categories of fantasy, expressionism or realistic depiction.”(Baltimore Sun). Damen has had regular solo exhibitions at commercial and alternative galleries throughout the Washington DC – Baltimore Metropolitan region. Her paintings have been selected for invitational shows at the Delaware Center for Contemporary Art (DCCA) and the Maryland Art Place (MAP) and she was one of five artists included in MAP’s exhibition, “Athena’s Daughters” curated by Grace Hartigan.