Veteran Deperlene Reid’s life so far has been marked by passions instilled in her as a child: love for her country and an appreciation for the arts.
“My dream has always been to join the military,” said Reid, an adult learner at the University of West Georgia. “As a young child, I first fell in love with the military uniforms I saw girls wear in the movies. I wanted to wear the same uniform. Throughout my childhood and high school, whatever I wanted. it was joining the Women’s Army Corps and wearing that uniform.
By the time Reid enlisted in the United States Army in 1981, that particular uniform and program was no longer in service, but his dedication has remained the same. And no matter where she was based – whether in Germany, Panama or Korea – she often delved into the region’s higher education opportunities.
“Because I was in the military, I was transferred to different facilities,” Reid recalls. “I enrolled in so many different colleges and universities that I couldn’t count them all with one hand. I also changed programs as many times as I changed schools.
A lover of photography, Reid has always had a camera in his hands, even as a child. But with the advancements in technology over the past few decades, taking photos has become a more difficult proposition.
“I bought a camera, and it was smarter than me,” she laughed. “So I promised myself that when I retire, I would go back to Georgia, take a class at UWG, and learn how to use this camera. “
It turned out to be not as easy as a single class. Reid met the head of the art, history and philosophy department, Kevin Shunn, who advised him to enroll for an entire semester. This eventually led her to take a course with Stephanie Smith, Senior Lecturer and Gallery Director for Printmaking and Foundations. It was there that she discovered a new passion: screen printing.
“When Stephanie finds a student who enjoys what he does, she starts to plant little seeds in his head,” explained Reid. “She finally convinced me to change my major, but I continued to be frustrated. Then when we started doing relief reduction, it clicked. I fell in love with it. Like the military, you have to be very focused on the reduction printing. “
Reid recently exhibited his work in his main exhibition, titled “Perpetual Garden”.
“Dee has worked tirelessly to develop her skills, from first telling me she couldn’t draw to creating an incredible display of beautiful hand-carved woodcuts and linocuts,” Smith said. “His sense of design and beautiful color combinations are evident in his work, and his concept and symbolism are touching. “
Reid shared that his printmaking journey wasn’t just a creative endeavor; this sparked memories of working in the garden as a child with his mother – hence the theme of his show.
“Relief reduction printing is very slow and methodical, but like gardening, the results are well worth the effort,” she said. “Through my work, I try to commemorate my garden to share it with my viewers, as my mother shared her love of flowers with me.”
Since retiring as Master Sgt in 2007, Reid has seen no need for a degree or certificate. However, with Smith’s encouragement, Reid would graduate with a bachelor’s degree in printmaking in December.
“I am proud to have this degree which is rooted in doing something that I love and have a passion for,” she concluded. “I will continue to make prints and show them in exhibitions because now I have that knowledge and experience. “