Chelsey Stimson is the artist and owner of American Feathers. She is a Navy Veteran and surviving spouse of SO1 Tyler Stimson, a Navy SEAL and former Marine.
The Story Behind the Feather…
Tyler was killed in 2010 in an accident at home after several deployments and years of service. The life we built together centered around that service, ended unexpectedly that day.
The care and thoughtfulness I received in the days following his passing not only helped me get through each day, but they changed my heart. I was so grateful to have the support of friends and strangers. It helped immensely to be surrounded by love at time where I felt so lost and alone. The smallest acts, a smile from a stranger or a call from a friend, meant the most to me at a time when I felt so empty. I knew somehow I would find a way to forward that kindness on into the world and honor Tyler in my own way. I also learned to never underestimate the power of small acts of kindness.
The day I painted the first American Flag Feather I was just expressing myself. I’ve always found peace and healing in various forms of art and American Flags have become a focus for me over the years after Tyler’s passing. Receiving the flag at his funeral at Arlington National Cemetery I remember it felt like it was the last bit I was given of him that I could hold onto and I held on to it desperately that day. Perhaps it really all started there.
When I look at these feathers, I see a culmination of memories and emotions beginning with the day I decided to join the Navy, to September 11th, to the first day of boot camp when I first met Tyler, not knowing he would be my future husband. They are infused with my memories of his days during BUD/S, to our first duty stations, to our wedding, to the many deployments and months, likely years in total, of long distance separation.
They represent the service and sacrifice of those that are close to me. They also represent the stories of service and sacrifice of those I don’t know. Lastly, American Feathers represent my appreciation and gratitude for all of the above.
When you see an American Feather, please know they mean all these things and more to me. I am sure many see their own stories, loved ones and memories, which I love to hear. That is what sharing art is all about.
These Feathers have made their way across the country before ever being discovered recently on a larger scale. They have landed in the homes of Veterans, Gold Star Families and Patriots. They are each as unique as each story of service and sacrifice.
So you see, I didn’t just sit down one day and paint a feather. American Feathers had been in the process of creation over many years before they were fully expressed as they are today.
Thank you all for your support and interest in American Feathers. I look forward to sharing them and more of their story with you all.
Never Give Up and Never Forget,
Show Music: “The Ropin Pen” (Live) by: Trent Willmon
Production & Editing: Matt Kirschner