Paul Shambroom, SHRINES SERIES

0247_18-19Mayville_ND 0252_9-10LaMoure_ND 0410_18-19PortArthur_TX 0736_16-17Warren_NH 0740_9-10Winstead_CT
0750_12-13Wolcott_CT 6768_1-2Anderson_SC 6777_3-4AlpharettaGA 6781_9-10BufordGA 6788_3-4CordeleGA
6788_11Centerville_GA 7489_3-4Columbus_OH 7496_18Covington_OH 7508_18-19Fairmont_IN 9071_7-8_StBonifacius_MN

SHRINES: Public Weapons in America

What happens to weapons of war when they are no longer useful for their original purposes? Those that are not scrapped often are given second lives in the public sphere, mounted in places of honor in communities across the United States. Town squares, city parks, armories, VFW and American Legion posts display retired weapons from every major American conflict. Once intended for lethal combat or other military functions, these objects serve in a range of entirely different roles in their new settings: memorial, tourist attraction, playground equipment, historic artifact.

My fascination and curiosity is driven by these questions:

  • Our nation is once again at war, with daily casualties. What can these relics of previous wars teach us about America's (and humanity's) proclivity for armed conflict?
  • Why is a machine that was made for killing used as a memorial to the dead? Does it help a community mourn and heal from its losses, or is it intended to inspire new generations of warriors? Can it do both?
  • As these weapons age, their surfaces weather, and their technologies become obsolete, do they lose their associations with death and warfare?

I will photograph in as many regions as possible over the next several years, documenting artillery, tanks, helicopters, planes and missiles in public settings. Using on-line sources such as Flickr and Google Earth, I have assembled a custom map-linked database showing locations of hundreds of these weapons across America.

My goal is to present a collection of images that addresses the complexities of community response to war and remembrance in America.