'Man Up' at Marketview Arts explores war through art

Dawn J. Sagert
York Dispatch

Sunlight sprays in large windows along the outside wall of the third-floor gallery at York College's Marketview Arts on West Philadelphia Street as resident artist Chris Dacre stuffs repurposed bubble wrap into the torso area of a wooden structure wrapped in camouflage garb. 

Dacre, of Grass Valley, California, has been in York since the beginning of November for the installation of his large-scale work "Man Up." 

The 46-year-old joined the military within a month of graduating from high school, and after serving 4½ years in the Air Force followed by 3½ years in the Reserves, Dacre decided to make use of his G.I. Bill and attend college. As he neared completion of his undergraduate degree in graphic design, he took two lithography classes.

"I was really drawn to the medium of print-making," he said. He would ultimately go on to graduate school at the University of Arizona. It was there that he realized he could become an artist, and he has been pursuing his art for about 10 years.

On his website, he says, "The portrayal of war has fascinated me ever since I can remember. It's idealized in movies and video games, recruited for on billboards, written down in books and exposed in documentaries." 

At Marketview Arts, Dacre gestured toward four stuffed forms sitting on a single bed.

"These are the uniforms of people that have been to Iraq and Afghanistan," he said. The heads and hands of the creatures are unique, he pointed out.

He collects a variety of fabrics and media when he finds them discarded and archives them for later use. 

"I'm using recycled materials in the artwork — trying not to create waste," Dacre said, adding that creatures and parts of the installation will be archived and used in future works.

Creatures, largely made from re-purposed materials, wait for placement in the large-scale installation of "Man Up!" by resident artist Chris Dacre at York College's Marketview Arts, 35 W. Philadelphia St. in York City, Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017. The work reflects Dacre's research after he served eight years in the military. Dawn J. Sagert photo

"I think a lot about how not to generate more trash with my work as well," he added. 

While reflecting on his work, Dacre said, "You're really naive as a teenager (joining the military), and that's what they're looking for. As I dig deeper, I find that there's a lot of things that are intentional. I was in for eight years, and I try to figure out why I was attracted to it in the first place." 

"I want people to know that it's beyond this innocent thing. There's something more real about it," he said. "We're teaching violence to our youth at a very young age, and it's desensitizing our culture in general and it's making us more apt to continually wage war." 

Overhead is a large flock of target kites that represent all of the drones in use. They are the first section of the installation to be completed.

An exhibition of "Man Up" will open with a reception at 5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 1, at Marketview Arts, 35 E. Philadelphia St., and will be on display through Jan. 20.