VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Families split apart. Fathers and mothers overseas for months, sometimes longer, unsure when or even if they'll be able to come home.
These are just some of the sacrifices portrayed in the 170 faces that now adorn the Haynes building on Virginia Beach Boulevard.
Faces of Courage, a brand new art installation unveiled this month, aims to honor the local military community and what they go through in order to defend our country.
"To try to take that thought and marry it with the value of public art," said creator Bobby Levin, a local artist. "Hopefully it makes us a more compassionate community."
Levin began putting the project into motion 19 months ago. It features a collage of single, black-and-white portraits of active duty servicemen and women, veterans and their family members printed onto a massive canvas.
The result is a 290-foot long, 22-foot tall eye-catching display.
Levin took the pictures himself during a six-week period last year and traveled around the region to find his subjects, which included himself, having a father who served in World War II. Once he positioned them, Levin only gave one direction.
"Express yourself," he said.
The result was 170 emotions on 170 faces of all ages and colors...and an endless opportunity for conversation.
“Does it make you smile? Does it make you think? Does it make you aware? Does it make you think about others, about yourself, how we see one another? If you look at one face, does it make you think differently than you look at all the faces? Everybody is going to have their own take with it," said Levin.
Each picture is on the same dotted background, a signature of the larger project of which "Faces of Courage" is a part.
"Inside Out" debuted in 2011 and uses portraits to tell stories of people from around the world. It's now in 130 countries and features 2,000 installations, all using the same dotted background.
Given the theme of the Virginia Beach edition, Levin says he decided to officially unveil it on Veterans Day.
“I’m grateful, I’m thankful, I’m excited. I think we’ve been too divided and hopefully something like this can bring us closer together," he said.
The launch event is scheduled for Thursday, November 11 at 12:45 p.m. outside the Haynes Furniture building at 5324 Virginia Beach Blvd. Speakers include Congresswoman Elaine Luria and Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer.
The display is expected to be up for at least six months.