Blue As The Seven Seas

Poster design for an end of residency exhibition for Catherine Rockhold.

It was spring in New York when I found out that my brother wanted to attend the Naval Academy. A Naval Officer walked into the restaurant where my mom and I were eating. My mom started to tear up exclaiming, “Can you imagine! That could be Peter!” I was bewildered - my brother Peter? In the Navy? We are so close…how could he not tell me this?

I confronted Peter when I was back home from college. I burst into his room without knocking. His usual calm demeanor turned angry and defensive - "I never questioned you when you decided to go to art school!" Violence and death flooded my dreams.

I tried everything to get him to pick a different university, but he was too stubborn. It took months for me to come to terms with the fact that my brother was going to go to the Naval Academy.

I started taking photos of him as a way to understand; or at least attempt to understand. He wanted to go to the Naval Academy so he could be a pilot, so I rode along during Peter’s flying lessons, and I began to appreciate his passion for flight. I spent weekends at the Naval Academy and slowly began to understand and respect the institution. As I became more acquainted with the school, I became friends with Peter’s classmates. Over time I got to know them, and I became interested in their stories - why were they there? What did their parents think about their decision? What were they trying to get out of the Academy

The four Midshipmen featured here are just a small fraction of those who were patient enough to let me photograph them and agreed to share their unique journey to the Naval Academy in their own words.

—Catherine Rockhold

Published on February 14, 2014