Soldier Paints Cultural Awareness Through Art
The 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade’s Equal Opportunity Program created an EO Art Contest from September through November of 2020 to enhance cultural awareness and foster esprit de corps within the Imperial Brigade.
During the course of the competition, Soldiers throughout the forward-deployed and garrison Imperial Brigade Air Defense Artillery units were encouraged to submit art that expressed genuine, traditional or interpretive Hispanic Heritage and Native American Heritage.
The 11th ADA BDE Equal Opportunity Advisor, Sgt. 1st Class Carlos Chavez, stated that Soldiers art submissions were judged on overall creativity, originality and artistic ability.
A winner was chosen each month for the specific EO observance, with a panel of non-biased brigade personnel determining the overall winner of the contest; the overall winner was Sgt. 1st Class Brandon Brouillet of Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 11th ADA BDE.
“I feel very proud of myself, I’m glad that I won with the Hispanic Heritage piece, because it was so personal to me and I wanted to put my best foot forward,” said Brouillet. His Mexican American family inspired him to enter into the competition. “My wife is Hispanic and my children are Hispanic,” he noted.
His artwork illustrates a Hispanic woman, Hispanic countries, and a symbolic animal. “I have every single Hispanic countries flag, there’s 20, so I have that represented in the drawing. As Americans, if we were to be represented by an animal, it would be an eagle because it’s in every symbol that we have as far as the Departments of Defense and I wanted to mesh that along with the bright colors that come along with Hispanic culture,” said Brouillet.
The elaborate eagle headdress also emulates the headpieces worn by Mayans dating back to 2000 BC. Brouillet also went further into ensuring his depiction of Hispanic women were genuine and authentic. “I tried my best to make sure it didn’t get misrepresented in any way,” he expressed.
After winning the Hispanic Heritage month contest he decided to express his artistic talents during Native American Heritage month. “I wanted to do something that wasn’t too dynamic but also showed the history of Native Americans, like the struggles they went through, and how they rose to where they are now.”
His artwork characterizes a Native American Warrior with a stern expression on his face. But it also features precise engraving, often known to artists as stippling. “It’s a bunch of small tiny dots that collectively create an image. It took an immense time to do but I think it came out well.” Brouillet came in second place for his Native American artwork submission, but still enjoyed the feedback from Soldiers and peers.
“With the Hispanic Heritage month piece, so many people have reached out to me asking if they could buy it, print it or if I could send it which is great. But then others have said ‘wow it hits me at on personal level because I’m Hispanic and it just makes me feel much prouder of myself because of what you did,’ and that makes me feel like what I’m doing is worthwhile.”
His love for art started from an early adolescence and has transcended throughout his military career. Brouillet stated it’s all about expressionism, “the great thing about art, everyone gets their own take out of it. You don’t have to put words into your art. You don’t have to drive a message because it comes to everyone differently and that’s what I enjoy, when I finish something and show it to somebody, whatever they get out of it is an enjoyment to me.”
Now deployed to the U.S. CENTCOM area of responsibility, he has also utilized his talents to enhance his unit’s footprint, designing and painting artistic pieces for a unit T-Barrier.
“It’s a personal hobby of mine. I don’t do it to compete, I do it because I enjoy it.” And with 21 years of service, Brouillet has contributed art in some fashion to instill esprit de corps and show pride within his previous units. “Just doing that, keeps me leveled to where I can enjoy what I do and also make artwork last beyond my time when I’m out.”
For all of SFC Brouillets’ efforts, he will earn an Army Achievement Medal, a Top-Notch coin of excellence awarded from the brigade commander and a four-day pass.