POZNAN, Poland – Many Soldiers have creative outlets. Many Soldiers create paintings. Not many Soldiers have their art displayed in a foreign country. For this noncommissioned officer, that’s exactly what happened.
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Jonathan Over, a Washington D.C. native, assigned to the 47th Military History Detachment of the U.S. Army Reserve, displayed an art show at Poznan, Poland, showing a part of him and his life for the world to see.
Over signed up with the Army in 2006 as a satellite communication systems operator and maintainer. He deployed to Afghanistan in 2009. Soldiers discovered that he could draw and request tattoo designs during his time there. When he returned, he sought psychological help for trouble sleeping. The psychologist asked if he had creative outlets when he was younger.
During his time back stateside, he thought, “why not do this full time?” Eventually, he moved to Los Angeles and got an apprenticeship in a tattoo shop.
“I enjoyed my job,” he said. “I was expressing my creative outlet.”
In LA, he was accepted into the University of Southern California for his oil paintings, using classical artists as his influence. He started falling in love with video artists from the 80s and impressionist artists, influencing his current style.
In 2014, he joined the Army Reserve, becoming a public affairs broadcast specialist. With his expertise in digital art, he designed a digital newsroom to be used by his unit. He won the 2020 Brumfield mass communications competition for digital art for this product.
Over was later offered a deployment to Poland with a military historian unit under V Corps as a broadening assignment. In this country, he found acceptance and hospitality from its people.
On the night of May 7th, 2022, old acquaintances and newly made friends attended the display of the LA Series, a collection of paintings he made, marking the 10th anniversary of his return from Afghanistan.
During his time in the Army, Over met Joshua, who deployed with him to Afghanistan in 2009. They always kept in touch after the deployment, but almost 12 years later, he attended the art show on the other side of the world.
“I think there’s something really admirable about bringing your art from our country,” said Joshua. “To be able to give a part of himself to a whole ‘nother country, I think it’s an amazing thing.”
The new friends he has made during his time in Poland also attended. Natasha Chuda, who works with the contracting companies in Poznan, Poland, showed her support for Over.
“He’s an awesome guy, very honest, very kind,” said Chuda. “His art reminds me of my time in London.”
During his time in Poland, Over met Natalie O’Connor and her husband, owners of a local restaurant in the heart of Poznan, where the art show was displayed. Both of them regularly display art shows in the bar. Over approached the couple, showed them his work, and arranged to show this collection.
“We love supporting artists,” said O’Connor. “We are extremely glad and honored to have his paintings here.”
Over’s paintings have recurring themes of movement and mirror surfaces, using a dynamic way of representing the world around him.
“These paintings have themes of reflection, like a glass window or puddles on the side of the street,” he said. “There’s a lot of textures in my paintings, I use many tools to paint, from a fine art brush to plastic knives I get from the DFAC.”
“My goal is to make original art affordable to the everyday person,” said Over. “What I do is I find prints in thrift stores, and then I repurpose them, put my paintings on top of them.”
He describes his art as expressing his emotions onto the canvas and then out into the world. When he came to Poland, he never thought he would display his art on the other side of the world.
“I tried to bring a piece of LA here with me, and connect both sides of the world,” he said. “It’s like planting a tree, you plant the seed, but never know how it’s going to turn out.”