Meet Our New Artist-In-Residence: Claire O. Lissance

Having been a visually creative person my whole life and Arts Educator for most of my adult life, I see the Arts as the uniting force between all other disciplines in all cultures through history. The Arts give us a window and perspective on life that is tangible and universal. The beauty of the creative process is that it is inherent in all of us and it levels the playing field for us to express what may be an individual or a collective vision. The tools can be  as simple as paper, scissors, glue and a pencil or the human voice or as complex as a video or sound editing software or multimedia presentation.

The experience of the Military Family is different for all members of the family unit—perhaps never really given the credence that it deserves. With the constant moves, testing flexibility, the constant push and pull of constancy and permanence, it is a different and rich life experience with a different set of pluses and minus than those families who are more stationary.

Though I have never thought of myself as part of a military family, upon reflection, I found out I really did come from one. My paternal grandfather was conscripted into the Czar’s army for nine years in the last decade of the 19th Century. My maternal great uncle, in the Austro Hungarian forces, fought in World War I. He was sent to the Russian front and ended up walking from Siberia to Vienna in 1918.  My father’s brother, who arrived in the US with just his suitcases in 1930, volunteered for the US Army in 1943. As he was fluent in five languages, he was stationed in Germany as an interpreter.  He remained in Germany through 1948 because of the Nuremberg Trials.  My aunt (his wife) and my cousin moved to Germany to be with him. They lived on the economy and my cousin attended a local kindergarten and was fluent in German at age 5.  My uncle then went on to work for the State Department and went with President John F. Kennedy to Berlin. My own father left Paris in 1939 to be an exhibitor at the World’s Fair in New York; he later worked for the US war effort as an engineer and inventor for International Mutoscope in his new country.

Fast-forward to the 21st century, and I have worked in an art education capacity with Veterans here in Albuquerque, NM for over ten years. At first it was not a population that I was familiar with, but I learned what it was like to be part of the Armed Services and/or being part of a large military family through many long conversations. I soon discovered the military Veterans have a very rich and diverse history and have experiences that run the gamut.

As humans we wish to share our experiences and perhaps teach others in an informal way about them,  and the Arts are the great communicators that provide many avenues for healing and catharsis as well as pure enjoyment.

Because of my experience working with these men and women as an Artist Educator, Craft Specialist, and Director of the local Veteran’s Creative Arts Festival, I realize my calling is to continue to my work with the Veteran’s population in the artistic arena. I am very pleased to join the Museum of the American Military Family as their Artist-in-Residence.


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