Always Lost: A Meditation on War exhibition visiting Reno

A panorama of the Wall of the Dead.

A panorama of the Wall of the Dead.

Western Nevada College’s acclaimed arts and humanities exhibition about the costs of war will visit Reno, Nov. 30 to Jan. 15. “Always Lost: A Meditation on War” will be on display at the Washoe County Administration Complex, 1001 E. 9th St., Building B.

Washoe County will present a proclamation in honor of the exhibition during the Board of County Commissioners meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 10 at approximately 10 a.m. The county will host a public opening ceremony featuring the University of Nevada Reno Color Guard on Monday, Nov. 30 at 11 a.m.

“Washoe County is honored to host such a unique exhibit that depicts the tragic realities of war while honoring our veterans,” Washoe County Commission Chair Marsha Berkbigler said. “We hope everyone gets a chance to come out and pay their respects to those who gave so much to fight for our freedom.”

Now in its sixth year of travel across the nation, the exhibition recently completed an 18-month, statewide tour of Minnesota as part of the Minnesota Humanities Center’s “Veterans’ Voices” program. A second copy of the exhibition has been traveling across Nevada on the NV150 Sesquicentennial tour, sponsored by the Nevada Department of Veterans Services.

“We’re happy to be able to host this truly moving memorial display, as a dedication to our fallen military service members and citizens of Washoe County,” said Washoe County VISTA Economic Development Coordinator intern and U.S. Air Force veteran Robin Mason. She was instrumental in bringing the exhibition to the Administration Building.

The “Always Lost” project began in 2008 when two WNC professors decried the impersonal nature of the Iraq/Afghanistan wars, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Professors Don Carlson and Marilee Swirczek envisioned a way to remember those who have died with creative writing about those who serve and by creating a “Wall of the Dead,” individual photographs with names of U.S. military service members who perished in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars since Sept. 11, 2001.

Students in Swirczek’s creative writing classes, veterans and their families, and other Nevada writers contributed literary work to the effort. The Dallas Morning News granted permission to use their 2004 Pulitzer Prize-winning photographs of the Iraq War. Photographs and profiles of three WNC student veterans represent the thousands of service members returning home from war, and original poetry by Army SPC Noah C. Pierce, who ended his life after serving two tours in Iraq, shines a light on the epidemic of veteran suicide.

After its initial installation at WNC in 2009, the exhibition captured the nation’s attention. By year’s end, “Always Lost” will have brought a message of awareness and unity to 49 communities across the nation, and still counting. The Wall of the Dead continues to grow. When “Always Lost” made its debut there were approximately 4,000 faces and names on the Wall; today, there are nearly 6,900.

The project is sustained by donations and grants.

The exhibit is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays from Nov. 30 through Jan. 15 at Washoe County Administration Complex, 1001 E. 9th St., Building B, on the first floor corridor, in Reno.

To find out more about “Always Lost: A Meditation on War,” go to, or email, or call 775-445-4243.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment