SOUTHWEST ASIA -- Some might see the desert as brown, dusty and generally void of life. But while they may fail to see much color in the desert skyline, one maintenance NCO sees a landscape full of potential. It all started a few months ago when Tech. Sgt. Christopher Carr was kicking around some rocks like so many servicemembers like him have done before. "I kicked over this one rock and it just clicked," said Carr, an aircraft battle damage repair technician with the 379th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron. "It was just the perfect canvas, and best of all it was free and there were plenty of them." At first he just used a Sharpie to doodle on the rock, but he felt there was so much more he could do with it. "I've always been a fan of art since I was a kid," Carr said, adding he thought a little paint could do wonders. "So I contacted my better half in the United States and asked her to send my paint and brushes."
What started as a small art project morphed into an art gallery full of rocks - 60 of them so far - with the goal of making someone smile. Some of the rocks Carr have added detail, like adding texture to simulate the bumps on a frog. His gallery of rocks, though, isn't meant to be a private collection, as the Birmingham, Ala., native plans on randomly leaving his artwork throughout the installation with the hope of adding a little color to someone's day. "Maybe you will see a cartoon character on top of a napkin holder at the dining facility, or maybe you've had a really bad day as you're waiting at the bus stop and you look down to see a frog sitting on the bench," Carr said. "Hopefully it's something that brightens your day, and hopefully say, 'hey maybe things aren't that bad.'" Whenever someone encounters one of his approximate three-inch pieces of art, he says it's up to the individual what they would like to do with it. "You could pick it up and take it with you, or maybe even lay it somewhere else for someone else to kick over and find," Carr said. "Maybe it will inspire others to do their own artwork, or leave an inspirational message if you're not an artist." His artwork has already made an impact on his coworkers, according to his flight chief, Senior Master Sgt. George Morris. "His enthusiasm is contagious," Morris said. "Tech. Sgt. Carr does a great job of translating that artwork into a positive outlook to his fellow aircraft maintainers." Carr's flight chief said he first heard his plans about his artwork over a foreign object debris walk outside the maintenance facility, when Carr picked up a blank rock and said, "This is really nice."
"I asked him why and upon learning about his talents and plans to disperse them I was a bit skeptical at first until I saw his work," Morris said. "Then I knew it was for real. In my more than 24 years in the Air Force, I've never met anyone with his unique skill set." Whatever a person does with his artwork, he hopes it allows them to see the installation as something more than a military base in the desert. "They always say when you come to the AOR to make things better for all those coming behind you," Carr said, adding that's just what he intends to do.