A drawing by Rick McCarty.
Photo Credit: Deborah Burdick
It’s not easy to look at Rick McCarty’s art work, currently on display on the second floor of the Liberal Arts Center. Deborah Burdick, McCarty’s friend and "art mentor," says we should look anyway.
McCarty, who died August 23 at age 61, was a Mount Vernon, Indiana, native and a combat veteran of the Vietnam War. Tormented by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), he began to draw at age 48 in an attempt to heal his wounds through art. Burdick, a trained artist, met McCarty soon after he began to draw.
“Rick wanted people to know about Vietnam,” she said. “His art speaks so eloquently. You want to know what happened? Just look carefully at it and allow yourself to feel.”
McCarty’s work can be categorized within the genre of Outsider art - art created by people who have no formal art training and live on the fringes of society. Outsider art is often a means of self-expression featuring reoccurring motifs.
The USI display includes interpretive information identifying McCarty’s motifs.
In addition to local and national exhibitions, his work was viewed by 50,000 people who visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall display in Evansville in 1999 and has been used in schools.
His drawings are now preserved in the permanent collections of the National Veterans Art Museum in Chicago and the Connolly Library at LaSalle University in Philadelphia and are available to view in their online digital collections:
LaSalle University digital collection
National Veterans Art Museum digital collection
His self-published book, The Loss of Innocence, is an illustrated epic poem about a three-day fire fight in which McCarty lost several friends.
"It is an astounding piece of work," wrote fellow Vietnam veteran and artist R. Louis Posner in a letter to McCarty. "My opinion is that it is a national treasure."
A copy of The Loss of Innocence is in the University Archives.
McCarty’s work will be on display at USI through October 30.