The National Veterans Art Museum is proud to host an artist talk and social with photographer Mariah Karson and will be led by NVAM Development Associate and Post Commander Brent M. Webb. Mariah and Brent will discuss the similarities and contrasts between urban, suburban, and the rural Legion posts that are documented in Mariah’s book, AMERICAN LEGION. The talk will explore questions surrounding the two year documentary project from a young Legionnaire’s perspective, and will provide insight into the modern day American Legion. This event is open to the public, veterans and Legion members are highly encouraged to attend – we look forward to connecting with you all.
Sat September 30, 2017 // 10AM – 1PM // Free Arts Workshop
Creative Community: This Reminds Me Portrait Workshop
Join NVAM’s Education and Programs Manager, Moki Tantoco, and exhibition artist educator, Jeanine Hill-Soldner, in an image-transfer and watercolor arts workshop commemorating family portraits and history. No art experience required to participate, free and open to all ages!
Here is a video created by teens at Impact Family Center from their summer experience with the NVAM Education Team at Woodson Regional Library creating panels for Vision Quilt. Check out this link to see the completed panels:
NVAM Teen Council delves deep into Vonnegut’s Odyssey and created sketches and then watercolor paintings in response to themes of PERSPECTIVE, HUMOR, TIME, and NARRATIVE in Vonnegut’s prints. Using simple lines and limited color palettes, Teen Council members explore personal stories and conceptual ideas of each theme.
“In memory of…” is a collection of artwork created by the National Veterans Art Museum Teen Council. We were inspired by two painting series by Chicago-based U.S. Navy Veteran and artist, George Klauba. The messages of communication, memory, and shared humanity through the veteran experience inspired us to create “In memory of..”.
“The stories I heard seared my memory and burned into imagination. I would wake up in the middle of the night to pull a box of souvenirs from under my bed and take them to the bedroom window to touch them in the moonlight. My mind traced their paths, imagining the men that owned them and what had happened.”
In his paintings that are comprised of collaged images, Klauba reveals the influences of his experience of growing up during World War II and being in the Navy on a shakedown cruise off Cuba right before the Cuban Revolution. We used a similar art style of acrylic paint on panel, and collaged multiple images to create a single painting of our own experiences. Each of us took caution into expressing the memories that we cherish, the memories that we bested, or the memories that will come in the future.
Safe Ideal is a poem I wrote inspired by my high school experience. I had high hopes and expectations based on the stories from my older siblings. I planned on learning from the mistakes they made academically and in developing relationships. Unfortunately I was rejected several times. I was disappointed and felt out of place and wondered how others could do it. Purple represents my young arrogance in the beginning of high school. Red is the developing of my love interest and how it transitions darker shade of red, which represents frustration on being single. Green is my hope that everything to work out. I wanted to believe I could still find someone. Blue is my enlightenment; I realized that love should wait. I still have my academics to be proud of. Grey is the results of my actions. Although I still would like to be in a relationship with someone, I felt it would be safe to forget about it. The colors going towards the center represent me. These experiences and emotions are what make me a person today. Along with learning the mistakes of my siblings, I have also learned from my mistakes.
In the painting, there is a lost ribbon that represents me. The ribbon starts off black. The black represents negativity. As time goes on, the ribbon lands on a flower that represents Jada. Jada is my daughter. When the ribbon lands on the flower, it begins to change colors. This is the ribbon exhaling negativity and inhaling peace. I chose this representation because when I am having a bad day Jada is the only person that can turn it around. Simply seeing her smile or hearing her laugh can make everything better. There is a change from negativity to peacefulness. The yellow flower represents how great my relationship with my mom is. The pink flower represents my relationship with my friends.
Statement: Fluffy white and blue clouds surround two elephants as they share a flower. “Un-weighted” depicts different perspectives. When looking at the canvas horizontally, the smaller elephant is giving the elephant on the side, the flower. When you look at it like a portrait, the one receiving the flower in the first perspective is now the one giving the flower. The colors convey the message of the importance of giving. Blue and purple compliment each other, with the neutral white and grey colors create a soothing, calm, feel good environment. The need to be open to receiving if you want to be giving. In a world full of selfishness and greed, we need to take a step back and check our morals. “Un-weighted” serves to remind us to keep the world go round, if you receive, give back.
“The Mystery of Not Going Anywhere” is the story of my life on a canvas. It is an art piece that you do not where it is going but it is going somewhere somehow. The “mystery” is how these damaged or mistreated lines transform the images but they are still being held in place. It is an art piece that you do not know where it is going, but it is going somewhere. When someone looks at the artwork, their eyes follow the messy lines that connect everything together. The moon and the sun show comfort and the lotus flower in the upper left corner is related to where I live. i have many different houses but i feel safe in the lotus flower. The mystery of not going anywhere follows the chaos of what is going on in my life. In the painting there is a lot going on but the middle flower shows everything will be all right in the end. The mystery of not going anywhere started off just as mandalas and I wanted to make it into something bigger.
The title of my work is The Chain of Bricks because every brick tells a story of someone’s life. The chain holds my happiness inside it 04.17.16 that’s the date of when my life changed of struggling and not learning of the consequence. Someone really special in my life give me this chain I never take it off. Reminds me of all the good times I had with that special person. The bricks I made are painted to explain how my life was really dark place to change to a brighter place. The chain is in the middle because I want it to be noticeable like my strong heart, it can never be broken and like the bond I have with that special person will never be broken.
The title of my art work is called Before I Leave because we might never know when we will see our last light in the middle of the night or a beautiful morning sunrise. We should appreciate both of them. The sun represents us by waking up in the morning and the moon sleeping at night. The sun brightens up our day and the moon lights up our night. Every day it’s a new day, light represents life and our sun brings life to this world by not leaving us in darkness. Enjoy every day and night to the fullest.
In Piece By Piece each triangle represents a part of my life. The background color of each triangle is a pastel, to give off a pleasant vibe. Some triangles in “Piece By Piece” are not filled but empty, which represents the unknown part of my life that is yet to come. Starting from the middle, the triangle with many clocks symbolizes that there is never enough time in the world. At the bottom left the airplane and the tears falling portray the time when I was little, my grandparents went to China for vacation and at the time I cried. Since, I thought that they were never coming back. Bottom right, the two boxing gloves show how my little brother and I would always fight, even for the smallest thing. Lastly, is the one with a turtle and a spotlight illustrates the time when I almost lost my turtle in the backyard. There is one ear bud that breaks the boundaries, this portray the fact that music is my own little world and most of the time helps me forget about all of my stress. Over all this artwork and every single triangles makes up my life. Each moment/memories represents a part of me.
Old cars, bad food, tight streets, and benighted people was my life for fourteen years; and I was content with it, until I started high school. The red buildings are a representation of the closed minded and oppressive communities that I lived in throughout my childhood. I look back and realize how poisonous my simple life was. Books were the only way I had to look at different perspectives and create my own opinions. The soft greens and grays of the floating pages are associated with the comfort that reading gave me. I made the pages flying out of the book to show how discovering a new world would soon become a reality. The gray sky is another element of comfort that I added. The color gray pushes me forward to find warmth or create my own warmth – simulating the development of independence. This then leads to the mountains. The only memory I have of traveling is the image of mountains surrounding a highway. I was only three back then but the cold November air gave their figures a feeling that I can only describe today as something dominating yet inviting. Mountains are complex; I find their mysterious exteriors seductive and interesting. As I transition into my young adult life I hope to be introduced to scenery and cultures just as grand as a mountainous landscape. The absence of content on the pages is my way of expressing that I will be filling them up with more comforting and extravagant escapades. I hope that as I get older my experiences will mold me to become just as complex as a mountain.
Everything I wanted for this piece I was able to achieve. Everything I wanted for this piece I wasn’t able to achieve. The overall message consists of repressed thoughts and memories as well as the incapability to forget these thoughts. Each line that swirls in the background are inconsistent thoughts. Inconsistent in the sense that they come and go. The dark, black polaroid’s are the memories I wish I would forget and the people I wish I could forget. The playing cards, luck, faith, and all things that are inevitable. This is how I view life and how life is: A big game with ups and downs. The text, how everything is so nonchalant to me yet it all connects. “Je ne sais pas,” (French) means “I don’t know.” Lastly, black to make everything POP! New and old. Memories and messages. It is all repressed or wants to be repressed. Everything in life connects.
To Love and be loved is one of the life’s most blissful emotions. The feeling has been described by some as “ecstasy that one feels as if they are amongst the cosmos”. With this idea in mind, I used my paintbrush to bring forth a visual representation of one of the hardest emotions to describe. I thought of my partner Ean, the name brings forth instant memories and ideas. As I thought of Ean, my mind immediately sprung forward many connections I associate with our relationship; from memes such as Pepe the frog and that Boy, to his cat and dogs, to the sense of comfort and security I feel after an exhausting day before he walks home. Even though the action of hugging someone takes mere seconds, I reflect back to the euphoria he brings me, allowing myself to indulge within the memories for minutes to sometimes hours. It is there that I enjoy my time in my lover’s arms amongst our memories and the cosmos.
My art piece called True Love, is a connection to my constant thoughts. Most of the time during my teenage years I wish to find “the one”. I have this wish of fast-forwarding my life into the next four years and already have met this goal of finding “True Love”. The clouds turn into my thought bubbles, implying that I am open with sharing my thoughts even though I keep most of thoughts secretive. I added the rainbows and the arts because those symbols represent love and happiness. I chose to put an illustration from myself at the bottom of the canvas because the focus is a little bit on me, but drifting into my thoughts and personality.
Dark Paradise represents how the world is seen as a peaceful paradise, but it is actually full of violence and hate. The peace sign around the world resembles how everyone wants world peace, but they don’t contribute to the peace. They cause more anger and violence, which is why I painted the peace sign black. I painted the Earth green for the land and blue for the water, but there are different shades to show that the world is not pure. The different shades of purple in the background represent how people want world peace, but they are surrounded by the negativity of other people and events happening world-over. Dark Paradise is important because it shows how concept of world peace is beautiful, but most people bring so much negativity that the thought is hopeless.
I named this painting Happy Scooby because I used to watch a lot of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! As a kid and it brings back good memories. Scooby is always happy, besides the times he is scared with Shaggy. I used a lot of warm colors in the flowers, which represent a happy mood and cold colors to balance out the warm colors. The cold colors are any darker colors such as blue, purple, and black. I filled the background with flowers around Scooby to represent my love for nature and reference the 70s when the TV show first aired. Overall, I created this painting as a reminder of happiness.
Bottom Eye is an illusion. It is meant to confuse the eye for a while and make you wonder. The use of the multiple colors such as cadmium red deep and cobalt blue are meant to contrast each other. Similar colors such as cadmium yellow deep and primary yellow defeat the contrasting colors by blending together. Ivory black builds the depth of every color because it can contrast both the warm and cold colors. Both eyes represent each other, they both see the same thing, but in a different light. One sees the brighter side of things while the other looks down to the darker side of things. Turn the painting sideways and you will see water falling and then turn it the other way you can see a sunset. The optical illusion relies on the balance of two elements together in order to be whole.
Teens look at the AIDS Memorial Quilt presented on the National Mall in Washington D.C. in 1987 as an introduction on how many individual voices can come together to empower and inspire change. The teens are read Kim Stafford’s poem, “Proclamation to Peace” before sharing their experiences and opinions about gun violence.
After completing their Vision Quilt panels, teens share-out with the group their statements about the images and techniques used to create the panels. Examples include how rapidly news is spread through the modern form of communication of visual language, how gun violence tears apart families, that victims of gun violence are not only those who loss their lives, but family and friends, and how the targets of gun violence are predominantly young black males.
Brian Rock, from New Mexico came to do a workshop with the NVAM teen council. Brian grew up in Belfast, Ireland during a war, and moved to the U.S. to enlist in the army. He served as a post- 9/11 veteran and was in the army for over 10 years. After serving, he decided to channel his emotions in a healthy way. Instead of punching walls, he threw paint, instead of shooting people, he shot at canvas’s. Cement, dirt, manicans, cigarette ash, shells, photographs, and anything else he could find are all things Brian would mix with paint, and layer onto a extrodinarily large canvas’s. In this workshop we were split into groups of four and were each group was given a canvas, and acrylic paint .We used sand and dirt to create texture in our paintings, some of us added bits of surgical gloves and napkins. We had a fun time letting our selves get messy, and not caring where the paint fell on the canvas. Once we all agreed that we had a nice base with lots of textures and patterns, we switched our canvas with another group’s. We used house paint and the back of a paintbrush to swirl and drizzle the paint. Brian told us to use emotion and to try and think of a feeling when we were layering the colors. In the end, the pieces all look extremely different and unique, we all went around and expained what our piece meant, and what emotion we were trying to convey through the piece. It was a great experience, and a great learning exercise. Thank you Brian Rock.
First Day- Tuesday July 5, 2016
For the first day of teen council at the National Veterans Art Museum, we took a tour around the museum and the general teen space we will be working on our future work. After most of the roster arrived to the museum, we all did introductions of each teen present to get to know each other. We later participated in a Q and A of Ned Rick’s experience as a veteran. After Ned’s presentation, we ended the day with in progress work on self-portraits onto little post cards.
Second Day – Wednesday July 6, 2016
On the second day, the NVAM teen council completed their self-portrait post cards. Next, we began our next project: creating covers for personal sketchbooks. We worked on the covers for the rest of the day.
Third Day – Thursday July 7, 2016
NVAM teen council continued on their covers before transitioning in sowing out their personal sketchbooks. We added paper inside the cover before puncturing in holes to sow the sketchbook together. The teen council independently wrote twenty-five memories on their first page of the sketchbook. After some critical thinking, we broke down into three to five memories and descriptively demonstrated our memories. Our final decision was to choose one particular memory and look back to at least five objects in the event. We sketched the objects in our sketchbooks.
Fourth Day – Friday July 8, 2016
On the last day of the first week of NVAM teen council, we chose one memory to use for a theme of our new project. Each of us chose unique ways and art styles to project what we remember. We chose different materials for patterns and used 3D effects to add more details. After finishing up our project, we wrote reflections to how we felt at the beginning of the week to how we feel now.
On Thursday March 3, NVAM Teen Council visited the Art Devour Foundation to see veteran artist, Folleh Tamba‘s exhibition “Wars in Our Time“. In response to this exhibition and Folleh’s prolific use of writing and poetry the teens created haikus (a form of traditional Japanese following a 5-7-5 syllable structure) exploring “A warrior is…” or “What is a warrior?”
My drawing is based off of the song Lost Boy By Ruth B. This is the song I live by. Everytime I’m upset I listen to this song and cherish the lyrics. The song is based off of the Peter Pan tales. Ruth B sings about how one day, when she was alone and sad Peter Pan flew down to her taught her how to fly on her own and took her to neverland as their very own lostboy. Sometimes as a teen we just feel as though we need to get away from drama and be free. This song is my getaway.
When we went to go see the movie “ He Named Me Malala “ at first i thought it was going to be be boring and i thought i wouldn’t like it, but after the movie was over i really enjoyed it because she went through alot and alot of people did bad things to her and she didn’t hold a grudge or wanted revenge but instead she forgave them. It really stood out to me how passionate she was for women’s rights and how she was really worried and wanted girls to have an education and it really stood out to me because now of days teenagers now of days don’t care about important things like that.
NVAM Teen Council went to the First Division Museum at Cantigny Park in Wheaton, IL. This was the Teen Council’s first field trip together. Here are some quotes from their experiences there about how the First Division Museum differentiates and is similar from the National Veterans Art Museum:
“I was intrigued by the various artifacts and exhibits that vividly depicted the Vietnam war era and the environment in which soldiers were located in the jungle was truly exquisite, as the exhibits and mannequins made history stay alive and still make an impact on the visitors.” – Jessica T.
“The exhibits really had a lot of detail to the point where you felt as if you were there. It gave a lot of history on the different phases of how the war had changed over time. I also felt like the museum touched on a lot of different era involving the war instead of just focusing on one area of the war.” – Daryl G.
“Yesterday’s museum shows veteran stories through artifacts by showing the facts and the memorabilia from that time. This tells the story because we can look at the artifacts and make conclusions of what it was like for the soldiers at that time. NVAM is a narrative art museum which means that we collect art by veterans for veterans.” – Chris L.
“The museum we visited did a great job at acknowledging veterans through stories. We were able to know more about individual peoples experiences in wars. Similar to the veteran’s museum, it opened up new perspectives”- Jaliyah L.
“There were a variety of differences between NVAM and Cantigny. Cantigny had a more interactive display of their artifacts/art, such as the trench. At NVAM, it’s more of a sleeker look. White walls, art evenly apart from each other as well as an overall gallery walkthrough”- Jessica D.
“The museum had a lot of interesting things inside. I like how at the museum they made out the things of the wars and things of that nature.”- Jalean EG
“The First Division Museum at Cantigny Park was large and had more actual items such as uniforms, weapons, etc. While NVAM’s art is neither pro-military or anti-war, their museum was mostly about the facts about war showing how war evolved over time.”- Carlo F.
“Cantigny park museum focuses on the Vietnam War through the soldiers point of view rather than a civilians point of view unlike NVAM.”- Keon C.
The Vaughn students had a special guest, Maurice Costello, Vietnam Veteran, U.S. Army, 196th Light Infantry Brigade 1967-68. Maurice shared his story with the students, answering their questions, before interacting with the objects in the Things They Carried. The students tried on the flak jacket and rucksack relating his experience to the objects: So you are wearing all of these things, feel heavy? What is the climate of Vietnam? Now imagine how it would feel like to be wearing all of this humid, soaking wet, with infinitely more gear, trying to be wary of hidden mines and attack?
Then the Vaughn students were given a tour of The Joe Bonham Project, preparing for a the workshop to follow inspired by the exhibition. The students observed the different artistic styles and mediums used to portray the same veterans stories. We discussed different ways of observing and documenting in art from quick sketches in pencil to writing and digital drawings on Ipads. The workshop expanded on these ideas by introducing the students to bookbinding. The students using folding, cutting and sewing to create their own pamphlet stitches.
This was the last time this group of students from Vaughn Occupational High School will be workshopping with NVAM before they graduate next week! Congratulations to these amazing seniors, it has been wonderful making art with you!
It is finally spring! Well, sort of. Ignoring the random bouts of snowfall in Chicago, The Great Artdoors is too excited to get back outside for art-making! This week we are thinking about aerial photography and the “birds eye view” perspective, looking at examples taken from helicopters during Vietnam or more modernly videos captured by drones. We decided to create our own sort of weather balloon/kite/drone device that looks like something straight out of Up, using balloons, a point and shoot camera, fishing line, and lots of tape! Check out the Gallery through this link for photographs taken by the aerial balloon contraption we created!
Today for the Great Artdoors, teens looked into the NVAM collection at Regina Vasquez, U.S. Marine Corps Veteran, and and her work with Fatigues Clothesline. “Fatigues Clothesline is a vehicle which bridges a gap between survivors and their family, their therapists and the advocates who are advocating for us in Washington DC by providing communication, symbolism, awareness and Change regarding military sexual trauma. By allowing our survivors to be heard once and for all!” We discussed the seriousness of this issue, the importance of Fatigues Clotheslines work for the victims and spreading awareness, and how our choices with clothing are impactful. Clothing is used as our personal identifiers, whether that be our choice of brand, make, or imagery.
“My t-shirt is covered with colorful words that I use to define myself such as sensitive, proud, devotion, commitment, and friendship. The words are covered with hands. The hands are representative of how other try to hide me behind their own perceptions.
-Hunter // 17 // Westinghouse College Prep
“I feel like what Regina Vasquez is doing with Fatigues Clothesline is for a very good cause. The fact that we need to speak up more about military rape is empowering. I completely understand that, more than anyone else possibly could, without getting into details, this is a really important issue to me. Rape is serious.”
The following is a collection of essays written by Reavis High School students as a part of the Final Research Project for Brian Murphy’s War Literature class. Students visited the National Veterans Art Museum as a part of their final research projects. The essays include artwork analysis from the NVAM collection as well as reflections from a Veteran Interview with Ned Ricks, U.S. Army Air Calvary, Vietnam War and NVAM volunteer. Click on the students names to open PDFs of their Winds of War essays!
“As a teacher at Reavis High School, I wrote a semester-long course for senior English credit entitled Winds of War. The course exposes students to the subject of war through literature (2 novels and a memoir) and other art forms (visual arts, films, music). I take students twice each year to the NVAM to view and reflect upon work and listen to a speaker. I occasionally am able to bring speakers into the classroom as well.
The student population derives from a mostly working-class community and has a higher than average representation of immigrants and children of immigrants. Many of our students have family members in the military and 1 or 2 from the course usually go on to serve in the military as well.”
-Brian Murphy, History Teacher at Reavis High School
Reavis High School is located in Burbank on Chicago’s southwest side and began their partnership with the NVAM in May 2012 as part of a War Literature class taught by Brian Murphy.
If snow days will not stop teens from heading to YOUmedia, a frozen Chicago will not stop us from making art! The Great Artdoors, for new readers, is a public art workshop series hosted by YOUmedia and the National Veterans Art Museum. Each week we have one hour workshops taught by an NVAM teaching artist. Each workshop is centered around creating public art in Chicago and connecting to the NVAM’s mission to create a greater understanding of war experience.
For the first workshop of 2015 we headed straight into the cold! The teens were introduced to the NVAM.org online collection, looking at veterans artists that use moldmaking techniques such as Marcus Eriksen, U.S. Marine Corps, Persian Gulf War (Kuwait), and Jim Leedy, U.S. Army, Korea. We discussed how what moldmaking is and how artist use it as a technique to get extreme details and create mass multiples.
We also looked at Brazilian artist Néle Azevedo‘s Minimum Monument installation of 5,000 “melting men” at Chamberlain Square, Birmingham on August 2, 2014 to commemorate victims of WWI. The ice figures were placed out with the help of volunteers and left to melt in the sun.
Using dental grade alginate (a food-safe, seaweed based, inexpensive, moldmaking material), the teens thought of symbols to create molds of and cast in ice to place in public space in the loop. Some of the symbols included peace signs, hearts formed from hands, and palms.
Here are some reflections from the teens about the workshop: