Initial Reflection/Response: 06/30/2015
Upon entering the National Veterans Art Museum in Chicago, my interest immediately skyrocketed. The halls, doors, counters, walls, and floor, basically every foot of the museum, were filled with vivid, eye catching artwork. The collection is comprised of artworked created and published by Veterans from several wars, such as Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Several youth programs from the surrounding communities are brought to NVAM in order to actively engage students in multimedia and visual art projects. Students work with mentor artists and Veterans in order to raise awareness of the Veteran community and culture, via expression of unique and supportive art.
As a new intern with NVAM, I will help organize and educate students in the NVAM Out Loud Teen Council. In this program teens learn about leadership, career skills, and exhibition installation, all while creating powerful artwork and seeing the ‘behind the scenes’ of the museum. As an intern, I expect to aid in planning academic lessons for students, organize student activities, coordinate and prepare for such activities, and facilitate student work and reflections. Through these roles, I hope to gain some awareness as well. Not only do I hope to be more aware of the Veteran community and culture through art and expression, but I also hope to become aware of how students react to such expressions. I would like to notice how they react emotionally to both what the Veterans have to say and what they show them. Are they surprised? Do they feel angered, happy, or sad? Do they care? I would also like to notice their physical reaction. What do they have to say? Do they want to respond somehow? How the
students respond to a topic that may be a bit violent, saddening, troubling, or even not well known at their age, will be an interesting and insightful experience I am sure.
I am confident in saying that the past four weeks spent with the
students from Teen Council at NVAM has been a luxury. I am truly
grateful for experiences I had and the lessons I learned. I did not
know what to expect when beginning this internship, so I was
determined to remain open-minded and engaged. The artwork and
artifacts exhibited at NVAM are, in my opinion, essential to the
education and expression of veterans artwork and the veteran
community. The exhibit is mind-blowing, to say the least. I was lucky
enough to meet and work with several of the artists and NVAM staff.
Their experiences and lessons are fascinating and worth listening to.
I will surely remain in contact with them so I can continue learning
from them. I am also grateful for the opportunity to work with such an
intelligent and hardworking group of teens. The students in Teen
Council proved that they had what it takes to think critically and
work hard. The projects they have worked on in the past and continue
on today have such an impact. They have the opportunities to not only
engage with veteran artists, but also the community at large. I hope
that I left at least a minor impact on their lives, considering they
left such a large impact on my own. I hope to see what they will
become and do in the near future.
Joseph R. Zolper