In 1918, pigeon Cher Ami saved the lives of 194 American soldiers during World War I. He did so by flying for 25 miles in 25 minutes delivering an urgent message to headquarters despite having been shot through the chest, blinded in one eye, covered in blood and with one leg hanging by only a tendon. Hundreds of thousands of homing pigeons were used in service during World War I and World War II, in addition to countless dogs, horses and other animals that exhibited what we would call bravery. In 1943 the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals, in the UK, instituted the Dickin Medal to honor the work of animals in war. The Dickin medal was issued 55 times over 6 years to honor 32 pigeons, 19 dogs and 3 horses that served during World War II and one cat that served briefly after.
For her exhibition in the Cavnar Gallery, Vasquez will create 54 small-scale drawings displaying each animal that has been awarded the Dickin Medal in addition to one large-scale crocheted tapestry displaying these animals in action. Vasquez works from World War II battle paintings to recreate a similar scene but transpose the aforementioned animals for the people; pigeons parachuting from planes, dogs with rifles, etc., creating a balance of sincerity and humor.