NEA Presents Virtual Exhibition Featuring Military Service Member and Veteran Artwork

Exhibition is part of Creative Forces: NEA Military Healing Arts Network
An intricately painted mask in mostly shades of grey with words of inspiration and hope

"Defend and Protect" by Chris Harris. Photo by Amanda Voisard

Washington, DC—The National Endowment for the Arts proudly presents Creative Forces: Healing the Invisible Wounds of War—an interactive exhibition of visual art, music, and performances by military service members and veterans who are current or former participants in the Creative Forces®: NEA Military Healing Arts Network. The exhibition also includes first-person accounts from the artists about their experiences with creative arts therapies and effects of these treatments on their lives. View the exhibition.

Creative Forces 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. One of the goals of Creative Forces treatment is to facilitate healing through creative arts therapies and help patients process war-related, traumatic experiences. This exhibition presents artwork that was created by service members and veterans as part of their clinical treatment with creative arts therapists, as well as by those who have gone on to pursue the arts on their own.

“By bringing together the beauty of art, insights from the creative arts therapists, and compelling stories from patients who have been served by Creative Forces, this exhibition is a powerful testament to the positive impact of the arts on people’s lives,” said Ann Eilers, acting chairman for the National Endowment for the Arts.

In addition to the artwork, the exhibit features video interviews with several of the participating veterans and creative arts therapists, sharing deeply personal stories about healing from the wartime experience. The exhibition also includes related research, for those who want to further explore the physical, emotional, and social impacts of these treatments.

Creative Forces: Healing the Invisible Wounds of War was originally organized by the National Endowment for the Arts for presentation at the Welcome Pavilion at the REACH at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. In partnership with the Kennedy Center and the National Museum of Health and Medicine—a division of the Defense Health Agency Research and Development Directorate—the exhibit was developed at the request of former Second Lady Karen Pence to commemorate Creative Arts Therapies Week 2020. When the in-person presentation was not possible due to COVID-19, the National Endowment for the Arts created this virtual exhibition which is now available for all Americans to experience. The exhibition is on the Creative Forces National Resource Center website, which was launched in summer 2020 to demonstrate Creative Forces’ impact in a publicly accessible and compelling way and as a platform to link military-connected communities, researchers, creative arts therapists, artists, and community arts providers around healing through the arts.

Creative Forces is managed in partnership with Americans for the Arts and the Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine. More information is available at

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 to learn more.


Allison Hill,