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"It took me a while to figure out I wanted to do, and how to navigate my life so that I could get to someplace I was proud of and happy with." (Video interview, 50:50).

   William Arthur Ehren Tool
Image of William Arthur Ehren Tool
William Tool at time of interview
War: Persian Gulf War, 1991
Branch: Marine Corps
Unit: Military Police Company, Headquarters Battalion, 1st Marine Division
Service Location: Lackland Air Force Base, Texas; Camp Pendleton, California; Twentynine Palms, California; Saudi Arabia; Kuwait; Italy; Paris, France
Rank: Sergeant
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Enlisting in the Marine Corps in 1989, William Arthur Ehren Tool served in a Military Police unit in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia during the Persian Gulf War, and then at the U.S. embassies in Paris and Rome. Following his service, he used the GI Bill to pursue an undergraduate degree, where he discovered his vocation, ceramic arts, and then began making small ceramic cups decorated with images and shapes evoking violence and war. To date, he has crafted over 14,000 of these cups. In his oral history interview, conducted as part of the PBS documentary series “Craft in America,” he discusses the connection between his service and his art.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (9 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: video (69 min.)
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 Video (Interview Excerpts) (9 items)
How going to war and exposure to violence shifted his worldview. (01:31) Going to junior college on the GI Bill; falling into art classes; going to graduate school; thoughts on the GI Bill. (02:41) Impetus for making the cups; felt similar to meditation; sheer enjoyment that came out of going to class and making art. (02:38)
Difficult transition from service to school; reaction of craft community to his cups. (01:26) How he got started making cups; goals of the project. (04:14) What he’s learned from his art teachers; first show opened a month after 9/11; relationship between his story and the next generation of veterans. (02:48)
Different art installations that he has created; need to humanize the statistics of war. (02:30) Going to Vietnam to make cups out of the country’s distinctive red clay. (02:10) Adjustment to civilian life; trying to find his way in the world, and to trust in his own voice. (00:57)
  
 

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  The Library of Congress  >> American Folklife Center
  October 26, 2011
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