I was invited to attend this year’s Maine Veterans Creative Arts Festival at the VA hospital at Togus because a friend of mine had some work he created for the event. I had never been to one of these festivals before, so this new experience was a pleasant surprise. There were poets, storytellers, and musicians performing in addition to the 2 and 3-D art on display. I got their a little late and missed a lot of the performances. I did get to see WWII veteran Leroy Peasley’s performance; he recounted his service as a guard to President Roosevelt and his service on Iwo Jima and ended it singing “Danny Boy.” There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
Art Therapy is a vital tool in healing. I am happy to see that it is finally starting to get the serious recognition it deserves. From journaling, to poetry, to the fine and applied arts, having a creative outlet can benefit anyone.
I continue to see more and more news articles featuring the results of art therapy projects which include veterans. Most recently this one from the Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/22/veterans-art-therapy_n_6526040.html
And this one from Buzzfeed: http://www.buzzfeed.com/emaoconnor/this-is-what-a-veteran-looks-like?bffb&utm_term=4ldqpgp#.ulGnAdaGP
I went to the Arts Festival at Togus not only to support my friend and to get to see what his project finally looked like after I had seen it in its infancy, but also to see what the program was about because the program facilitators at Togus are always looking for artists in the community to help judge the art categories each year and it looks like I might be helping them out for next year’s festival.
Watching so many veterans from so many backgrounds and service histories get together for a day celebrating their creativity is what gave me the idea to reuse the pinhole cameras from my solargraph project.
For Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day I am working with my friend and we are going to hand out a group of pinhole cameras to veterans that live near Togus and who are interested in participating in WPPD. I have enough to give a small group of vets 3 cameras each (I want to increase their odds of getting a good picture). We’re meeting with them before WPPD and going over how to take a picture with a tin can loaded with photographic paper.
I’m excited about this project because it will give local veterans an opportunity to express a narrative about the picture they take and then, if they want to, they can share that picture and that narrative with the rest of the world through the WPPD gallery site. I think this creative outlet and connecting with the world is vital for all of us. Sometimes I feel disjointed and not connected to others around me, especially when working in isolation like I often do when I’m in my studio. Sharing experience and perception through artwork and writing is a great way to get reconnected, even if for a moment.Being part of something is what makes us human. I’m really looking forward to seeing the results of this project and seeing how our servicemen respond to Pinhole Day!