Faces of the Fallen is a temporary exhibition that honors and memorializes more than 1300 US service men and women killed between October 10, 2001 and November 11, 2004 in Iraq and Afghanistan. Inspired by The Washington Post's ‘gallery of portraits’ in summer of 2004, Washington, DC portrait artist and Corcoran College of Art professor Annette Polan contacted more than 220 artists to create portraits for the exhibit. CORE was asked to execute the exhibition design and installation.
CORE developed the exhibition design entirely pro bono, contributing more than 200 hours for concept, design and implementation. Exhibition fabricators Exhibits Unlimited engineered and oversaw production of the display, which included more than 1,000 separate elements that showcase the 1,327 individual portraits.
Initial concepts were inspired by gravesite markers found throughout ancient Egypt, Mesoamerica and Greek cultures. Originally of relief-carved stone, blocks or pillars, the markers are recognized in non-western cultures as memorials to those that died. The primary goal was to create an exhibition of honor to engage the viewer in a sacred place wherever a group of the portraits are displayed. The final design is a flexible, portable and simple platform into which mounted portraits are displayed on rods of varying heights.
Individual bases constructed of MDF hold up to 25 rods in rows rising from 3’ in the front to 7’ at the back row. Painted to mimic granite and stone, the bases and grey mounting frames provide a neutral background for the artwork. The resulting proscenium arrangement allows for full view of each portrait, essential for family members and viewers to locate a loved one in the formation. As compact components, (2’ d x 4’ l x 18" h) the boxes may be arranged end to end, back to back, or in any undulating configuration depending on the available exhibition space. Each portrait is identified with an engraved nameplate that provides the soldier’s name, age at death, hometown, date of death, and the name of the portrait artist. As of October 2005, more than 250,000 have viewed the exhibition, which will eventually travel to sites across the country.