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Leslie Elsasser - Introduction
Christian Cortes

Crimi Arrieta - Relative of US Army Veteran
Patricia Colbert - US Army
Gail Cross - US Air Force
Dr. Charlie Ferrer - US Army
Janine Hargrett - US Army
Valerie Larson - US Air Force
Kevin Lipton - US Army
Dolores Matteo - US Army
Karidad Ramis-Hartman - US Army
Roger St. Julian - US Army
Monika Sutton - Spouse of US Army Veteran
Viana L.M. Tavares-Fischer - US Army

Manfredo Bobadilla - US Army
Agustin Collazo Jr. - US Marine Corps / US Navy
Amanda Dodd - US Army
Evan Fountain - US Air Force
Derek Hopkins - US Air Force
Mikko Maki - US Marine Corps
Alicia Morales - US Army
Chris Smith - Spouse of US Army Veteran
Kimberlee Nicole Smith - US Army
RaeAnne Swanson - US Air Force


Valerie Larson, Story Time, 2023.

Valerie Larson, Story Time, 2023.


Story Time 

A self-portrait assignment? What did I do to myself? What can I use for props? I’m really tired and need time to think about this assignment. ‘’Come on girls, let’s snuggle before bedtime.” Hmm, maybe I can use you to shift my focus; there’s nothing like a dog kiss to warm the soul. 

The girls and I love to snuggle on a lazy weekend morning, them dozing, me reading a good novel. They are great confidants, like cry towels, and comfort me when ailing or sad. So, including them in my self-portrait only seemed natural. 

Usually, trying to get a dachshund to cooperate for anything is difficult. Trying to get two dachshunds to sit still while setting up for a portrait, well that is enough to test anyone’s patience. This peaceful morning, I spent with a good book and my two little ladies. The girls weren’t content just sharing the space, as anyone with Dachshunds knows, they wanted to know all about the drama and intrigue in the book, which this avid reader was only too happy to share. 

As I looked at the picture, a soothing sense of warmth came over me and I found confidence in accomplishing this assignment. 



Valerie Larson, Modern Nature, 2023.

Valerie Larson, Modern Nature, 2023.

Valerie Larson, The Important Things, 2023.

Valerie Larson, The Important Things, 2023.



For more information:
Email Leslie Elsasser at

Breaking Barriers is a program by USF Contemporary Art Museum in collaboration with the USF School of Art & Art History, is supported by the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital, USF Office of Veterans Success, Community Arts Impact Grant of the Hillsborough Arts Council, Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners, Love IV Lawrence, USFCAM ACE (Art for Community Engagement) Fund Patrons, and the Florida Department of State, Florida Arts & Culture.