Lad Decker

Conflict of Interest

#WarStudies #Conflict #MilitaryHistory

These paintings were developed over the last three years. They come from a larger body of work that started in response to the American wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that began in 2001-2003 and that continue today. It was the Vietnam War that marked my childhood memories most. Since seeing the photographs and films from journalists posted in Vietnam, I’ve been interested in war photography and in understanding the causes of war and social conflict. 

This work is a visual synthesis of the observations and experience of living in a time of war. The elements of war and the machines of war are both real and symbolic. We build things that reflect our own nature, and that enable us to extend our nature out in to the world. This project is divided into sections based on the different elements of conflict including helicopters, tanks, and fields. 

I am not advocating war. I'm acknowledging that it exists, that we fight, we debate, and we posture for positions of power. I don’t have easy answers for how to prevent war. I paint to understand and to reflect on the consequences of our actions. I want more awareness, more critical thinking, and more dialogue about the past, the present, and the future. 

- Lad Decker


Watch Looking at War and Conflict In-studio interview.



The helicopter symbolizes the Vietnam War.

It symbolizes conflict.

It symbolizes destruction.

The long rotor blades stretch out like arms.

It symbolizes man.

Just like man’s duality, helicopters exist in two opposing roles.

They attack and threaten.

They rescue and provide refuge.



As far as the eye can see, the horizontal land anchors the sky.

After night falls, the sky is dark and light emanates from the destruction.



Helicopters wait on the ground.

Each air ship lifts up one after another.

The tall grass waves in the down draft.