War Vet Paints a Vivid Picture
OUTSIDE KANDAHAR, Afghanistan, bomb squad technician Marie Martinson saw a child’s skull. It lay in grass, in plain view, just off a dirt road where she and her team had stopped to check for explosives.
Martinson (now Campfield, she married in 2012), an Art major, recalls that day in 2011 when her team leader found the remains. “We couldn’t do anything about it. We were there to look for hidden bombs and we couldn’t pick it up. Can you imagine that happening here and not being able to call anyone?”
The skull is now the focus of Campfield’s recent painting called “Child’s Skull, Kandahar Province.” It was accepted into the prestigious Society of Illustrators Student Scholarship Exhibition and was featured with other entries at the Museum of American Illustration in New York City in May. Campfield is the first Humboldt State student to have work accepted in the competition.
She is also the recipient of the Albert and Mildred Van Duzer Scholarship, Glen Berry Painting Award, Ingrid Nickelsen Trust Award for Outstanding Woman Artist, and Reese Bullen Award.
Originally from Vancouver, Wash., Campfield had been studying at Brigham Young University-Idaho, when she realized she craved adventure. She joined the Air Force in 2007 and was deployed twice to Afghanistan between 2009 and 2011. She came to HSU as a Wildlife major in 2014.
But what she really wanted to do was paint. Campfield had been drawing with pencil and pen for years and decided she needed to learn a new medium. So she switched majors. And under the guidance of Art Professors Brandice Guerra, Gina Tuzzi, and Teresa Stanley, she thrived.
“As in the military, everything was a team effort. The Art faculty guided me in the creation of really meaningful pieces, helped me apply for scholarships, wrote letters of recommendation, and gave fantastic advice and insight about becoming a professional artist,” Campfield says.
The result is a body of work that captures moments that are disturbing, quiet, and serene. “Child’s Skull, Kandahar Province,” is 4 feet by 3 feet and employs a variety of media, including acrylic, grass, tissue, and mod podge on canvas.
“I wanted the focus to be just the skull,” says Campfield, who created the piece for a fall 2015 Intermediate Painting class. “It’s very macabre and dark so the background needed to be black. I still don’t know how to feel about the skull or how to express it with words, which is why I paint.”