Wolfe painted “Nam - America, What Are You Doing?!” in 1972, in a factory (it is 30’ long, too big for the artist’s studio), at the height of the grassroots anti-war movement.
This was actually his second Vietnam painting. The first was cut from its stretchers and stolen after being displayed at the DeCordova Museum in Lincoln MA in 1967, and then at the Arlington Street Church in Boston, a center of anti-war activism and sanctuary for resistors.
Wolfe used images taken directly from the media coverage of the day. Thus every figure represented is a portrait of someone real, such as the now famous figure of a girl running down the street with her body in flames from napalm bombs, or a group of victims from the massacre at My Lai. The disfigured and mutilated images are shocking to the viewer, forcing us to confront the horror of war in a way we usually try to avoid, and from which we may in fact be shielded by the governments responsible for its devastation.