Conduct Becoming: A Survey of Distinction

December 13 through February 17, 2019

Robert D. and C. Corcoran Tuttle Gallery

Conduct Becoming: A Survey of Distinction is an ongoing photo essay project that captures and preserves the stories of United States military veterans. These powerful photographs depict former service men and women in their personal settings, contrasting the uniformity of the military with the myriad details of self-expression.

Conduct Becoming is the creation of professional photographer CJ Breil. His images take the viewer into the homes and personal surroundings of U.S. military veterans, offering a look at the personal and private, the complex individual in contrast to the uniformity of the soldier. When effective military service and performance requires self to be set aside in favor of discipline and conformity, what is lost and what is gained? And what happens to the individual when they return to the civilian world? Breil doesn’t provide the answers, instead allowing the subject’s life to reveal itself through the unveiling of visual cues brought about by observation and empathy.

In Breil’s photographs, veterans sit or stand within their own spaces, surrounded by the everyday objects of their lives. Typically, either in their hands or nearby, a photograph of the subject in service uniform rests. Separated by time and circumstance, the service image reveals a person that no longer exists, yet whose memories and experiences continue to impact the life of the contemporary sitter. As the project grew, it also began to encompass issues of sexual and gender identity, revealing the experiences of gay and transgender troops before, during, and after the era of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

Breil’s striking and compelling images of Conduct Becoming both serve and celebrate the men and women of the United States Armed Forces, and ask the viewer to not only remember their sacrifices, but invite them to witness and understand their personal narratives.

 C.J. Breil has been a fine art, editorial, and news photographer for over 19 years, a career that has taken him around the world. Breil graduated from the College of Creative Studies in Detroit with a B.F.A. in 1995, and lived in Korea, Turkey, and Greece before settling in Ann Arbor, Michigan. His award winning photography has appeared in books, magazines, newspapers, and in galleries and museums both locally and internationally.

Gallery Talk with Artist C.J. Breil
Thursday, January 10, 5:30 pm – 6:30 pm
Meet C.J. Breil, the artist behind Conduct Becoming, for a gallery talk around his photography exhibition. FREE and open to the public.