Vietnam War exhibit at Grinnell College

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Robert Hodierne, “The Ambush, Image 7,” 1967 (printed 2015). Digital print on paper, courtesy the artist.

GRINNELL — A controversial war a world away captivated Grinnell College student photographer Robert Hodierne, who left campus 50 years ago after his junior year to chronicle combat firsthand. More than 50 black-and-white photographs from the award-winning photojournalist’s extensive Vietnam War collection will be open to the public at Grinnell College’s Faulconer Gallery from April 7 through June 4.

The exhibition, “Robert Hodierne: Vietnam War Photographs,” is organized and circulated by the University of Richmond Museums in Richmond, Va., where Hodierne teaches documentary film and still photography. He also serves as associate professor of journalism and chairs the journalism department at the University of Richmond.

Hodierne made his first trip to Vietnam as a freelance photographer in 1966. He was the youngest, fully accredited foreign journalist to cover the war. He returned to Grinnell in 1967 to complete his studies.

After graduating from Grinnell in 1968 with a degree in political science, Hodierne returned to Vietnam in 1969 as a soldier assigned to Pacific Stars & Stripes in Saigon.

During his two tours, Hodierne photographed combat from the Demilitarized Zone on the border with North Vietnam, to the Mekong Delta in the south and the jungle-covered mountains and rice paddies in between. His photographs appeared in all major U.S. and European magazines. The 1968 “Popular Photography Annual” includes a portfolio of his work. His photos also are featured in the Time-Life series of Vietnam books.

The photographs reflect Hodierne’s concern for the ordinary soldier as seen in the haunting faces. “I want college kids to look at these faces and see themselves. They are the same age as the soldiers. I hope they never have to experience what these young men experienced but I want them to think about it,” Hodierne said. “My mission is to have Americans understand what we ask these young people to do when they go to war. It’s not an antiwar message but an unsanitized awareness.”

Hodierne, who received an Alumni Award from Grinnell College in 2008, has served as a Pulitzer juror.

More information about photojournalist Hodierne and his war photography collection is available from or

Faulconer Gallery events, which are free and open to the public, and related to the Hodierne photography exhibition, include:

• 20 Minutes @ 11, on April 11 at 11 a.m. Hai-Dang Phan, assistant professor of English at Grinnell College and a National Endowment for the Arts 2017 creative writing fellow, will respond to the Hodierne photographs and help the audience consider them through an interdisciplinary lens. Phan was born in Vietnam and raised in Wisconsin after his parents immigrated to the United States.

• Gallery Talk: “Young and Hungry: A Freelance Photographer in Vietnam,” at 4 p.m. on April 27. Photojournalist Hodierne will talk about what took him to Vietnam in 1966 and again in 1969, and his experiences photographing every major American military unit in the war. He will connect these early experiences with his career as a photojournalist working amid conflicts around the world. Reception to follow at 5 p.m.

Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week and admission is free. The Faulconer Gallery is in the Bucksbaum Center for the Arts, 1108 Park St., Grinnell. For more information about the exhibitions and related programs, call 641-269-4660 or visit

Grinnell College welcomes the participation of people with disabilities. Information on parking and accessibility is available on the college website: Accommodation requests may be made to Conference Operations at 641-269-3235 or