VSA Indiana, an organization founded to provide art opportunities for people with disabilities, recently drew attention to another community who was in need of an artistic outlet, Indiana veterans. As recipients of our Focus 2020 grant, the VSA hosted the “War and Peace Veterans’ Art Exhibit,” displaying the work of over a dozen veteran artists in the area, many of whom already participated in the Veterans Antiquities Collective. The whole premise behind the exhibit was to bring the veterans, arts, and disabilities communities together by creating an inclusive environment that embraced art in all of its forms. Lydia Campbell-Maher, Director of Grants and Marketing shared, “It shows the diversity of an individual person. We may identify somebody as a veteran, but we may not identify them as an artist and vice versa. So it illuminates the whole idea that there is more to any person.”
Some of the artists have chosen to sell their work in the gallery while others simply used this opportunity to share a little bit of their story. The gallery was on display during the month of May at the Harrison Center for the Arts and the VSA continues selling many of the artists’ work now that the exhibit has ended. One of the veterans, Mark Smith, has even moved on to teach classes for children and has found his passion by sharing his experiences and gifts with the community. Lisa says “It has illuminated the issues that veterans are dealing with, whether it’s post-traumatic stress, finding a job after you come back from the military or transitioning back into the community. These are a lot of the things that have grown out of this project that we didn’t necessarily expect, but that we see there’s really a gap in our community for veteran projects and veteran art projects in particular.” In the future they are striving to make a community class for some of the veteran artists and potentially collaborate with the VA medical center. The VSA also hopes to make the exhibit an annual event for Veterans Day or Military Appreciation Day. If you are interested in the “War and Peace Veterans’ Art Exhibit,” please visit their website or stop by the gallery every first Friday of the month to check out their inspiring work.