Healing the Invisible Wounds of War: A New Virtual Exhibit Featuring Work By Creative Forces Artists

By Allison Hill
detail from a mask which is painted black and has a scrap with the word help embedded in the forehead of the mask

Within (series) by Chris Stowe. Photo by Amanda Voisard

In his moving poem "Prayer," Nick Catinna says, "And find a way to rejoice and be happy—Through the ugliness in the world that we all despise." Catinna’s poem is just one of the works spotlighted in Creative Forces: Healing the Invisible Wounds of War, a new interactive exhibition featuring artwork created thanks to participation in the Creative Forces®: NEA Military Healing Arts Network. Bringing together 45 pieces of visual art, music, and performances by active duty military service members and veterans, the virtual exhibit also features short video clips by the artists. As the artists share their personal experiences with art-making and the positive impact it has on their lives, viewers gain insight into the process and meaning behind each piece. 

The exhibit also offers creative arts therapists an opportunity to reflect on how Creative Forces serves the military population in a number of ways, such as helping them learn how to connect to the present moment. Art therapist Heather Spooner, for example, describes that through art making, “People may forget about pain for a while, they may lose track of time.” 

Ultimately, the exhibit is visceral proof of how over the past decade creative arts therapies have made a measurable impact on the lives of service members, veterans, their families, and caregivers. Visit the exhibit at the Creative Forces National Resource Center website.