My name is Luke Meunier, and I am a toy photographer from Orlando, Florida. I am
pursuing a degree in Studio Art at Florida State University with the goal to receive a masters in art therapy.. Growing up, I have always been interested in fantastical Sci-Fi Universes and thestories they tell, where I lose myself within the worlds of Star Wars, Warhammer, and so many others. Though I was always interested in trying to recreate the stories I read and watched, I could never quite put my finger on what my favorite medium was.
Around middle school, I found toy photography. This was a eureka moment for me,
Drawing always took too long and painting was too messy so photography became a clear
choice. It’s fast, quick, easy and very rewarding for my ADHD brain. Being that I was already a collector myself, I had a wide range of realistic toys at my disposal. I had already conquered half the battle of this hobby. I quickly learned the ins and outs of toy photography, using fireworks, portable lighting and even digging miniature trenches throughout my back yard. Over the years I have gained a substantial following on Instagram, it has led me to fulfill commissioned pieces, work with the Orlando Opera as well as having a residency in my own studio space.
Throughout this IDEA Grant and Honors Project, I am looking to investigate the physical
and mental ramifications caused by contemporary conflicts, battles, and wars on humans and the environment around them. In order to complete this goal, I plan to interview family members, current service members, and veterans, as well as conduct my own research by watching interviews and content related to this subject. I want to uncover the perspectives of these individuals as a result of surviving conflicts from around the world. I would like to expand upon what I will have learned to pay creative homage to the sacrifice of these veterans and be a vessel to represent the physical and mental toll these events cause. I want to create a series of toy photographs depicting different wars through the ages, taking the research I conducted and commemorating the individuals who have served to
share their stories as accurately as possible. I intend to explore how these experiences affected them on and off of the battlefield, and to spread awareness for the ongoing mental health crisis among veterans and people affected by these major conflicts through my toy photography.
In this series of photographs , I want to explore my passion within war history, but take a
hardened focus on the effects of these conflicts on the mind, body and environment of these soldiers. It’s important to capture the widespread effect of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of contemporary conflicts and honor the sacrifice that these brave men and women have made. By shining a light on these particular veterans and what they continue to go through, I want to educate my audience on a hidden struggle that many experience. It is important to understand that the injuries they sustain may not just be physical. I utilize photography as my medium and create staged photographs using toy soldier action figures. My work critiques seeing soldiers as objects and statistics, attempts to focus on their traumatic experiences, and hopes to create awareness about their needs for mental health support.
At face value these are just plastic pieces, but by putting a symbol of innocence in a situation that is very real, it defaces the viewers expectation of what a toy could represent and transforms it into a realistic traumatic experience. As an artist, this is something that is very important to portray in the most realistic light possible in order to not misrepresent the struggles that many face as a result of these traumatic events and pay homage to what many have gone through in the past and what many may experience in the future.