“Veterans use artwork to heal”
DENVER – The artwork of veterans was featured Friday night as part of the First Friday Art Walk on Santa Fe.
VFW Post #1, the VA and a number of other organizations hosted the tour of art work created by veterans. Many of the artists are involved in the Art of War Project at the VFW Post #1 or other art therapy programs.
“The Art of War Project is something we do to create a balance for veterans, ” said Curtis Bean founder of the Art of War Project. “So we do everything from painting, drawing, printmaking photography, film and also wellness, yoga, mediation.”
The program will celebrate 3 years in January.
“Here at the VFW Post #1, we don’t have a bar,” said Jim Stevens, a featured artist. “We have an art gallery. We have yoga, photography classes, film classes all kinds of things that we work with veterans to help them overcome their PTSD problems. The building was purchased here so that we could interact more with the community.”
Stevens, is a Vietnam veteran. He was shot in the head during the war in 1970. Bullet fragments were left in his head and 23 years later in 1993 they shifted and caused a stroke in his visual cortex. He lost his eyesight.
“The war came back to bite me,” Stevens said. “I didn’t do anything for a really long time and my daughters, a martial arts sensei and a recreational therapist from the VA all starting kicking at me. They all got me up and back into my art. They said you love art, get back to it.”
“Much of my art is exploration of empty space because that’s how I see, I see in empty spaces,” Stevens said. ” My monofilament paintings are 120 strand across and 8 layers deep of hand-painted fishing line. Each strand is held top and bottom with sterling silver, and there’s no art on the canvas in the back of any of my paintings. All the art hangs freely in space on the lines.”
His work sells for hundreds of dollars and is collected all over the world.
“Art as therapy worked for me so I know it works. So the VFW and the Art of War, it’s a perfect combination,” Stevens said.
For more information on the Art of War Project click here: http://www.artofwarproject.com/
NBC News, Denver
November 6, 2015