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Through Our lens


Through Our Lens Home
Leslie Elsasser - Introduction
Selina Roman - Looking Inward, Seeing Clearer
Christian Cortes

Beginning (Section A)
Jarrett Gafford - US Air Force
Dawn S. Hargrett - US Navy
Rebekka Huneke - Daughter of US Air Force Veteran Father
Ramonita Rosa - US Army
Kimberlee Nicole Smith - US Army
Monika Sutton - Wife of US Army Veteran
Karl Young II - US Army Colonel (US Special Operations Command)

Advanced (Section B)
James Alexander - US Air Force
Manfredo Bobadilla - US Army
Wildalys Class - US Air Force
Agustin Collazo Jr. - US Marine Corps / US Navy
Amanda Dodd - US Army
Evan Fountain - US Air Force
Mikko Maki - US Marine Corps
Alicia Morales - US Army
RaeAnne Swanson - US Air Force


Artworks featured in the Me, Myself and Eye catalogue.


Leslie Elsasser - Introduction

Through Our Lens is an exhibition of forty-seven photographs created by sixteen military veterans and their families who participated in the 2022 Breaking Barriers photography workshops. For the first time we offered two workshops, both led by artist Selina Román and assisted by artist Christian Cortés. The beginning workshop, Seeing Like a Camera, Working Like an Artist, focused on close looking and “seeing like an artist” while the advanced workshop, Out of the Box—New Ways of Seeing and Making Photographs, went a step further and focused on creating photographs that give the viewer pause and offer new ways of seeing, understanding, and expression. Through Our Lens is a curated selection of photographs from both workshops that express notions of seeing through personal interpretations. Both workshops were conducted virtually, and each artist created images with their own cellphone cameras. These original and inventive images tell stories about place, express ideas, and convey experiences perceived through the personal perspective of each artist. Through Our Lens presents these intimate and individual voices to both the local and larger civilian and veteran communities. 

Veterans face many challenges related to war and deployment. As a result of their service, many veterans cope with physical and often invisible conditions, which affect not only service members but also their spouses, children, extended families, and friends. Civilian life can also pose challenges to veterans returning home or newly retired. It can be difficult to find words to articulate these hidden conditions and express internal thoughts and feelings which escape everyday language. Breaking Barriers offers participants an opportunity to communicate visually and develop an individual voice through artmaking.

I would like to thank the sixteen photographers represented in this catalogue for their bravery in service but also for their bravery in undertaking a new creative endeavor. I deeply admire their courage to move outside of their talents and undertake something new. It is nothing short of heroic to plunge into the art world, and to learn a visual language while being both behind and sometimes in front of the lens. We thank them for their dedication and for sharing parts of their selves with us, the viewers.

I would also like to thank the USFCAM team who worked diligently to make this catalogue and Through Our Lens a reality. Thank you to Randall West, the Deputy Director of USFCAM, for his guidance and support. To Selina Román and Christian Cortés for their expertise and artistic visions by which they led the participants to shatter their own glass ceilings. To Don Fuller and Martha de la Cruz, CAM’s media team for all their graphic genius in creating the program’s publicity, social media, and most of all, this catalog. To Eric Jonas, Alejandro Gomez, and Sarah Hughes for their framing and installation expertise. To Amy Allison, Ana Vidal, and Hanna Weber who were enthusiastic and diligent partners, and allies to all the participants. To our community partner The James A. Haley Veterans Hospital, specifically Merrilee Jorn who will exhibit Through Our Lens at the hospital in 2023. To Dr. Steven Wilson, who helped us improve the program by writing and administrating a program assessment. To Wally Wilson, the Director of USF School of Art and Art History and Forrest MacDonald for their printing collaboration. I would also like to thank the USF Office of Veterans Success for their continuing support; specifically, Dr. Wayne Taylor, Director; Renee Amboy-Biller, Associate Director; and Dennis Mont’Ros, Care Coordinator.

I am immensely grateful to our funders. Breaking Barriers is made possible by a grant from the Community Arts Grant Impact Program of the Arts Council of Hillsborough County, Love IV Lawrence 2020 Waves of Change Grant, and additional support from the ACE Arts for Community Engagement Fund and the Florida Department of State.

Curator of Education
USF Contemporary Art Museum



For more information:
Email Leslie Elsasser at

Breaking Barriers is a project by USFCAM in collaboration with the USF School of Art and Art History, with Support from the USF Office of Veterans Success, Community Arts Impact Grant Program of the Arts Council of Hillsborough County, Love IV Lawrence 2020 Waves of Change Grant, and additional support from the ACE Arts for Community Engagement Fund and the Florida Department of State.