Back in the days where youngsters had legs and a shape, one of the best ways to entertain yourself was with little plastic army men: Even today, roughly half of all grown men cannot help but see trenches in the garden walls and cliffsides in tree roots. These little soldiers, sometimes based on actual national armies, watched their friends die face down in the mud for this patch of sidewalk. They taught us all about tiny duty, itty-bitty honor, wee sacrifice and bite-sized heroism.
In a related work by VanZanden, the centerpiece of his exhibit, standing a good six feet high, he uses this same material on a huge scale, recreating one of the classic little plastic army men poses:
Amazing timing, then, that yesterday, when my wife and I stopped in at the in nearby Edison, Washington, we should see this piece by Pieter VanZanden, a woodworker in , working here not with wood but with little plastic army men, riffing on ‘s most famous sculpture, , and conveying what could be interpreted as an anti-war sentiment similar to that of the Yoga Joes:
I shared my own childhood experience, having been raised on war movies on television, having played with these little plastic army men, until, that is, I became a pacifist and embraced the concept of that is central to the Buddhism and Yoga practices I came to dabble in.