For several years, I maintained a correspondence with two American soldiers my own age soldiers serving in Iraq in an attempt to empathize with their experience. I utilized their accounts from the Iraq War in the form of e-mails, phone conversations, and photographs to gain insight into their feelings and to inform my image making. These accounts revealed young men and women filled with excitement, hope, naïveté, uncertainty, fear and fantasies. This process deeply humanized the military for me and continues to have a profound effect on how I perceive and react to images and narratives from American war zones. My “Searching Soldiers” paintings and prints offer a first-person, viewfinder perspective as seen through night vision goggles. I tried to reflect the feeling of being lost in a surreal environment with the acid green color palette, and later, by depicting their journey through our shared visual language of video game iconography and surrounding figures in Islamic design patterns and camouflage netting, which often completely obfuscate the figures.