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POSTPONED: Upcoming Exhibition Features Artwork Developed Through Creative Arts Therapies

Creative Forces: Conquering the Invisible Wounds of War is Latest from National Endowment for the Arts Initiative

Image for Creative Forces exhibit March 2020.JPG

wood carving of a wrinkled face inside a log

Memories Too Painful to Withstand the Light of Day was created by Creative Forces veteran Maj. (ret.) Jeff Hall  who said, "Making art without a doubt has worked better for me than any other medication, therapy, or activity in helping me find myself again." Photo by Catherine Keeley. 

THIS EXHIBITION HAS BEEN POSTPONED INCLUDING THE EVENT WITH THE SECOND LADY ORIGINALLY SCHEDULED FOR MARCH 16

Washington, DC—In celebration of Creative Arts Therapies Week, the National Endowment for the Arts is presenting the exhibit Creative Forces: Conquering the Invisible Wounds of War. The exhibit features artwork by active duty military service members and veterans who are current or former patients of art therapy, music therapy, and/or dance/movement therapy. The exhibit runs from March 16-30, 2020 in the Welcome Pavilion at the REACH at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and is free and open to the public. 

Creative Forces: Conquering the Invisible Wounds of War is presented in partnership with the National Museum of Health and Medicine of the Defense Health Agency and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. It was organized at the request of the Second Lady of the United States Mrs. Karen Pence to commemorate Creative Arts Therapies Week.

The featured artworks were made through Creative Forces®, an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs. Through this initiative, creative arts therapists work in clinical settings to accelerate healing for military and veteran populations exposed to traumatic brain injuries (TBI), post-traumatic stress (PTS), and other forms of psychological and physical trauma.

“We have heard over and over again about how much this initiative has meant to patients and their families, how it has enriched lives by reawakening a sense of meaning and purpose,” said National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Mary Anne Carter. “I hope that this exhibit will inspire new audiences to learn more about how the arts can play a pivotal role in healing, for military populations and beyond.”

The exhibit showcases the expressive talents of the active duty service member and veteran artists, and offers insights into the wartime experience. It also includes information, developed through the research component of the Creative Forces initiative, on what is being learned about the physical, emotional, and social impacts of these treatments.

Artwork ranges from sculptures and paintings to music and movement. Examples on view include:

  • Memories Too Painful to Withstand the Light of Day, a woodcarving depicting a wrinkled and terrified face peeking through long fingers. Veteran artist Maj. (ret.) Jeff Hall says of his artmaking including this piece, “Making art without a doubt has worked better for me than any other medication, therapy or activity in helping me find myself again. I can express nightmares in my art and no one is terrified of me. Nobody judges me for feeling weak or depressed.”
  • Recording and lyrics for “Bloom Where We are Planted,” an original song inspired by what the service member used to tell his junior marines when they were unsure about the duties that they were assigned in service. The song lyrics reflect the author’s coming out of the darkness of injury and discovering the light of recovery.
  • A painting titled Lakota emerged from a hunting trip the service member artist took with Hunting with Heroes. It depicts a serene sunrise over a field with ducks in flight. The service member artist said, “I don’t want to talk about the stuff I’ve seen, I need to talk about painting trees and birds.”

To celebrate the opening of the exhibit, the Second Lady will host a press gathering on March 16 to honor the invaluable impact of creative arts therapy. 

The REACH campus is open daily from 10 a.m. to midnight.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Instagram at #creativeforces.

About the Creative Forces Initiative

Creative Forces®: NEA Military Healing Arts Network is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the U.S. Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs and the state and local arts agencies. The initiative seeks to improve the health, wellness, and quality of life for military and veteran populations exposed to trauma, as well as their families and caregivers. Administrative support for the initiative is provided by Americans for the Arts. More information including community-based activities and research are at arts.gov/creativeforces.

About the National Endowment for the Arts

Established by Congress in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the Arts Endowment supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. Visit arts.gov to learn more.

National Museum of Health and Medicine

Since 1862 the National Museum of Health and Medicine has preserved, inspired, and informed the history, research, and advancement of military and civilian medicine through world-class collections, exhibits, and public engagement. Since 2016 the museum has collaborated with Creative Forces to host four exhibitions of artworks by active duty service members and veterans who have participated in creative arts therapy programs at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center’s National Intrepid Center of Excellence and at Intrepid Spirit One, the National Intrepid Center of Excellence satellite at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital in Virginia. The National Museum of Health and Medicine is a component of the Defense Health Agency.

Contact

Victoria Hutter, hutterv@arts.gov, 202-682-5692