They Dropped Like Flakes, They Dropped like Stars, draws its title from Emily Dickinson’s poem The Battlefield, written by her in response to the American Civil war and first published in 1896. Since 9/11 the US has committed record numbers of American troops to wars in foreign countries, and Seawright’s work has examined the impact of those engagements on American Society. He is known for photographic landscapes that explore the nature of conflict, most notably in his home City of Belfast. His work from the battlefields of Afghanistan engaged most directly with the battlefield but in recent years his focus has been on the American landscape, from sites of military recruiting offices to US television news studios. His work depicts the American city as a contested space that gives form to the fraying edges of American life. They Dropped Like Flakes, They Dropped like stars, imagines the American landscape as a battlefield, where returning soldiers take their own lives in unprecedented numbers. Underpinned by interviews with survivors of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the stories of their homecoming and of comrades lost to suicide have shaped the work. A separate but related video work will incorporate the audio interviews.
20 veterans a day commit suicide nationwide in the USA, according to new data from the Department of Veterans Affairs — In 2014*, the latest year available, more than 7,400 veterans took their own lives. Following each meeting with a veteran or soldier, Seawright photographed at the location - Veterans of Foreign Wars Halls, VA facilities and homes.*VA Suicide Prevention Program - Facts about Veteran Suicide, Report July 2016