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MTSU student’s photos show Afghanistan through sol...

MTSU student’s photos show Afghanistan through soldier’s eyes (+VIDEO)

An MTSU student turned U.S. Army veteran will let his camera tell the story of his service in Afghanistan in a new exhibit opening this week inside the Todd Art Gallery on campus.

“Afghanistan: Through the Eyes of a Soldier” by Duran Bunch, a junior marketing major, will be on display Aug. 29-Sept. 19 in Room 210 of the Todd Building.

Army Reserve Specialist Duran Bunch, right, an MTSU junior, receives congratulations from his commander, Maj. Clift Slaughter of the 325th Tactical Psychological Operations Company (Airborne), after accepting an Army Commendation Medal during the company’s end of tour awards ceremony at Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan in September 2012. (Photo courtesy of the 325th Tactical PSYOP Company)

Bunch, a Nashville native, first came to MTSU as a biochemistry major straight out of high school in 2005. A modeling agent spied him in a Nashville store and whisked him into international fashion, where he worked in front of the lens as a model for the Wilhelmina Agency NYC, stalking down runways in Milan and Paris for designers John Galliano, Valentino, Dolce & Gabbana, Vivienne Westwood and Tommy Hilfiger.

He traded in the designer garb for desert fatigues in 2009, joining the U.S. Army Reserve’s 325th Tactical Psychological Operations Company (Airborne) as a specialist and winding up in Kandahar, Afghanistan, to support the 82nd Airborne in 2011 and 2012.

His unit was one responsible for the “hearts and minds” factor in U.S. military service, communicating American goals and offering help and support to local residents before the Taliban could make more inroads into the towns and villages.

Bunch, 25, bought a Pentax ZX-M 35mm camera and kept it and plenty of black-and-white film at hand throughout his tour of duty, using knowledge gained from working with renowned photographers Steven Klein and Steven Meisel to capture the documentary-style shots.

The result is a series of photos that depict the soldiers’ in-country experience in “Operation Enduring Freedom,” ranging from daily interactions with the Afghan people to routine missions that abruptly turned deadly.

Two members of the 325th Tactical Psychological Operations Company (Airborne) speak with local men and boys along a roadside in Afghanistan. This photo and more by MTSU junior and Army veteran Duran Bunch are on exhibit in MTSU’s Todd Art Gallery Aug. 29-Sept. 19. (Photo by Duran Bunch)

Since his return to the States, Bunch has exhibited his photos, along with looped video footage from his “helmet cam,” at a Nashville gallery while he works toward a Bachelor of Business Administration degree and more appearances on the dean’s list. He’s also donating proceeds from sales of his prints to the Wounded Warrior Project.

His photographs and uniform also will be a part of an exhibit in the Tennessee State Museum featuring an historic look at military uniforms over the years. Bunch’s uniform will represent the current conflict

Todd Art Gallery exhibitions and receptions are always free and open to the public. The gallery is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and is closed on state and university holidays.

For more information, including parking and directions, contact Eric Snyder at 615-898-5653 or eric.snyder@mtsu.edu or visit www.mtsu.edu/artYou also can watch an interview with Bunch below.

— Gina E. Fann (gina.fann@mtsu.edu)

A soldier stretches out for a break alongside a field full of poppy plants in Afghanistan during a routine mission. (Photo by Duran Bunch)

An Afghan youth carries a load of grain through the village bazaar on his donkey cart. (Photo by Duran Bunch)

Staff Sgt. Tyler Parks of the 325th Tactical Psychological Operations Company (Airborne) hunkers down in a wheat field in Afghanistan to avoid enemy sniper fire. (Photo by Duran Bunch)


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