It is impossible to expect another to value conservation, if other imminent needs of food, water, security in their homeland, access to health care and education, or the equality of opportunity, are not met. Conservation is the first casualty of war. Saving the land and sea begins with saving people.

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Iraqi Angel sculpture

A behind-the-scenes look at the installation of this piece

On Feb. 24, 1991 a truck filled with a dozen marines in an endless convoy for Kuwait City stopped when I yelled, “Hey look a body!” The paralyzed figure of an Iraqi soldier lay 30 feet from the incinerated jeep he was blown from. His knees were bent, eyes and mouth open, and his intestines poured out from under his shirt. We were both covered with specks of oil from the fires nearby, and soaked by the rains that made me dirty and miserable, yet washed his face clean. Before he died he waved his arms, like the way kids make snow angels. He made wings in the sand. My angel in the desert.

I never forgot him, or the grimaced faces of the living ones missing arms and legs, or the piles of dead men at the Highway of Death. Years ago I began welding a sculpture of him. I began with an old uniform, fiberglass resin, and plaster to make molds. I lined the molds with 70,000 steel ball bearings. In a desert war only sand, flesh and steel move together, in varied directions and velocities. It weighs roughly 300 lbs, but comes in two pieces, much like I found him.

Marcus Eriksen
July 19, 2010


Purple flower sculpture

Two weeks after the 1991 Gulf War ceased, among fields of burning oil wells, a little purple flower bloomed, pushing its way through the soot-covered, Kuwaiti desert sand. The flowers were evenly distributed a few feet apart in all directions as far as one could see. A natural history of trial and error sculpted this flower to persist here. In the face of us, regardless of us, ambivalent toward our dirty little war that blackened the world around us with burned oil and littered the landscape with rusted exoskeletons of tanks, humvees, and military vehicles of all kinds, those seeds proceeded to march in their own time. As a reminder to us of the common destiny of all living things, they sprouted, bloomed, and withered away.

The sculpture consists of painted steel flowers supporting a large specimen jar. Inside the jar are two scorpions, one camel spider, and the Kuwait Liberation Medal, preserved in isopropyl alcohol.


Flags from Crosses Destroyed at Bush RanchCrosses From the Bush Ranch

White crosses were brought to a road outside the private ranch of president George Bush during the Camp Casey protest prompted by Cindy Sheehan, mother of fallen soldier Casey Sheehan. On August 15, 2005 an angry Texan drove his truck over the crosses, smearing tire tracks across them and the names of fallen Americans displayed on them.

Flag of Crosses

Since 2004 a group of veterans and volunteers have displayed a field of crosses every Sunday on the beach in Santa Monica, California to honor the people who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. Only 1000 crosses are allowed. The white crosses represent one American, red represent ten, and blue crosses represent those who died since the previous Sunday. Old crosses were replaced after years of use, and fabricated into this flag.