Gertrude Kearns


As a contemporary war artist, Gertrude Kearns presents interpretive challenges to the commemoration and contextualization of controversial aspects of Canadian military history, both from her personal perspective and in terms of the institutional responsibilities associated with meaningful public presentations of war art. In the context of her decade-long Afghan War senior leadership series, and with reference to earlier Somalian and Balkan works, in this article she discusses the appropriateness of her selected subject matter as well as her own responsibility as a war artist in dealing with everything from disturbing and regular subjects to mission concept. Kearns reviews accountability, her work both officially and unofficially with Canadian personnel, and offers diverse military and civilian perspectives on her independent research approach and decisions as a civilian war artist working with specific Canadian Forces military topics and events.