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Ed Drew
(American, 1981 - )

Photographer, sculptor, and poet Ed Drew, grew up in Brooklyn, New York. He joined the military a month after graduating from high school and was soon assigned to Yokota Air Base near Tokyo, Japan. While in Japan, Drew discovered his passion for art and for Wabi-sabi, the Japanese aesthetic of finding beauty in imperfection.

Drew’s striking tintype portraits of his fellow soldiers fighting in Afghanistan, are the first known tintypes created in wartime since the American Civil War. Unlike other wartime photographers, Drew worked as an insider, photographing his intimate milieu and capturing the humanity of his soldier peers. The historical relevance of tintype photography fuelled Drew's enthusiasm to create these portraits. His work, he says, "is about the metaphors of the process - it alludes to the American past and to mankind's struggle to reconcile war and perfection".

Introduced in the mid-nineteenth century, the tintype was popularized and used in documenting the Civil War. “To do this process in a war, let alone a foreign war, is historically significant,” recounts Drew. “The process of wet-plate tintypes is challenging enough with perfect conditions and the availability of chemicals. In a foreign war, with the stresses of combat, lack of basic materials, drying desert air, and the wind and dust of Afghanistan, it was quite a challenge.”

Ed Drew currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is an active reserve in the California Air National Guard and serves as a helicopter gunner for an elite tactical rescue squadron with a USAF Combat Rescue Unit that saw action during operations in Afghanistan.

Links:

NPR/PRI The World

The New Yorker

Time Magazine

WBUR

The Guardian

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