Relational Ground – Personal Projects by Veterans


JANUARY 14 – FEBRUARY 12, 2022

Exhibition Opening: Saturday, January 15, 2022

Opening from 5 – 8 pm

Events are free and open to the public

Colorado Photographic Arts Center, 1070 Bannock St, Denver 80204


Richard Caldwell, Clifford Carter, John Dianni, Todd Fichtemaier, Amy Gamm, Maureen Hanrahan, YAh Kadesh, Mike Teubner, and Devon Wiggers.

Relational Ground ⁄ Personal Projects by Veterans features a compelling collection of fine art photography created by 9 Denver-area artists who have served in the U.S. military. This unique exhibition is the culmination of CPAC’s Veterans Workshop Series, a five-month program of advanced photography courses provided to participants free of charge. Each project is intensely personal, reflecting each artist’s inspirations, life experiences, creativity and point of view.


Below are brief summaries of each photographer’s project, written in the artists’ own words.
Full artist statements are included in the exhibition catalog available for purchase below.

Modern Day Longhorn Cowboys
Richard Caldwell

Like Buffalo the Longhorns almost went extinct, it is the efforts of hard-working ranchers over the past decades that have brought about a reinsurance of the breed. Today you will find the modern-day Longhorn Ranchers working the herd just like they did over 100 years ago. Even when it comes to branding the chosen method is with a hot iron just like the old west. These are modern day Longhorn Cowboys.

A Night at the Fair
Clifford Carter

For me, taking photos is a means of self-exploration, a way of interpreting the world around me. Photographs represent my intentional interaction within a space expressed visually from an emotional lens through a trauma-informed response to my environment.

John Dianni

I’m one lucky man. Caitlyn is amazing and photographing this project has been a whole lot of fun. I want other people facing these issues to realize that it’s not the end of the world. It can be heartbreaking at times but all we can do is keep trying and enjoy these moments; love the journey. That sounds astonishingly corny but it’s also true.

Avian Perspective
Todd Fichtemaier

I want to give you an experience, as close as possible, to an avian view using drone photography in place of actual flight. I want to tell you a story where, for a brief time, you are on a bird’s journey. You’ll experience the freedom of being above it all. You will see things through the eyes of a bird. Above all else, it is my goal to show you a perspective you don’t normally see.

The Dungeon of the Mind: An Eating Disorder Portrayed
Amy Gamm

Abuse and chaos create an anxious and unmoored child. Why? “It must be my fault.”

Steady streams of negative body-image messages provide the logic for the irrational response – I am fat. I can’t control my chaos, but I can control what enters my mouth. A cycle of self-abuse and shame begins.

Welcome to the dungeon of my mind.

Demolishing History
Maureen Hanrahan

Change in our Denver communities is inevitable yet how we live, where we live, even our homes often reflect our values. The bungalow home is modest, brick, including open front porches, shade trees, with tended flowers and gardens. Many of these homes have been in Denver for over 100 years. And they are disappearing, quickly replaced by the current architectural styles.

Extinction and Climate Control
YAh Kadesh

We must take a closer look at how we perceive others and all forms of life to form a different approach to our earth’s problems. Future generations will not care about the reality of the situation or make an honorable commitment to their planet’s future until faced with the possibility of extinction. A future that seems to take a turn to our demise.

Water, Water, Everywhere
Mike Teubner

For this project I traveled throughout Colorado and New Mexico seeking visual representation of dissonance between our tacit recognition of the problem and how we — for the most part — are collectively ignoring it.

A Natural Religion
Devon Wiggers

Mushrooms can be powerful allegories; for life from death, for plenty, for cooperation, for the mysterious. Fungi have a long history of lore, and much of that lore revolves around, or exists because of, Women. The Queendom Fungi is the branch on the Tree of Life that we know the least about; yet so many aspects of life on Earth depend upon those Fungi.

Exhibition Catalog available for purchase through Blurb or at the Gallery.


Launched in August 2017, the Veterans Workshop Series gives local veterans with a passion for photography access to advanced photographic education free of charge.

Over a span of five months, participants learn to refine technical skills, hone ideas into a body of work, create a portfolio, write about their work, and present their projects to the community through an exhibition at CPAC.

Each artist was asked to consider a personal project and to explore a narrative that goes beyond a single frame. The exhibition represents a broad range of subject matter because each project is a deeply personal expression of the individual. For example, John Dianni uses photography to document the challenges he and his wife have faced getting pregnant. Maureen Hanrahan explores the transitions and changes in her local Denver community. As a mentor to the artists throughout this rigorous program, I have seen tremendous growth and development of each artist’s project. It has been my honor to work closely with them, hear their stories, and try to see the world through their eyes.

–Samantha Johnston
Executive Director & Curator, Colorado Photographic Arts Center


CPAC extends our deepest gratitude to our partners, sponsors, and donors for making this exhibition possible. The 2021 Veterans Workshop Series was created in partnership with Task Force ISO and VFW Post 1. Funding for this program was generously provided by David & Laura Merage Foundation, Chase Bank, and individuals.

Additional support is provided by Reed Art & Imaging, Hahnemühle PaperMetropolitan Frame Company, Digital Silver Imaging, and Sony. We also wish to thank our wonderful workshop instructors: Frank Varney, Patti Hallock, Samantha Johnston, and Paul Weinrauch.

chase bank logo
Reed Art & Imaging
Sony logo
Hahnemuhle Paper Makes the Difference
Metropolitan Frame Company
Digital Silver Imaging