Eric Garcia visits the Back of the Yards CPL branch YOUmedia

Teens from the Back  of the Yards YOUmedia visited NVAM in July at the beginning of their summer Creative Community workshop series. Operation Mom’s Couch, a solo exhibition by local artist and veteran Eric Garcia was on exhibition .  Through out the course of the Creative Community workshops, BoY teens made art in response to the NVAM collection as well as in relation to the art made by Eric Garcia including development of superhero characters that relate to personal stories or issues of importance to the teens, developing short comic strips and narratives and designing comic book covers.


These finished projects as well as other works in progress were shared with Garcia when he was able to visit the branch in August. Along with sharing the process behind his work, Garcia shared how his work has developed over time and offered insight into how to work with changing ideas and influences.  Teens and youth in the program used this inspiration to decorate the YOUmedia space by adding their superheroes to the glass windows that make up the walls around the space. Overall everyone had a ton of fun and learned a lot about ways art can be used to share ideas through our personal stories as well as humor.

Summer Intern: Joe!!

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.

Best Regards,

Joseph R. Zolper


IMPACT Family Center: Flowers for Peace Project

Early this summer, NVAM Education welcomed teens from IMPACT Family Center who participated in a Creative Community workshop with veteran artist Stuart Hall.  IMPACT and NVAM Teen Council members worked with Stuart to learn more about his art practice and what inspires him to make art.  Primarily, they learned about his art intervention work called fleurs de guerre (flowers or war) and participated in making these poppy inspired flowers as well as consider where they would place these flowers as symbols of peace.  IMPACT shared what they did with their flowers after the workshop as well as a film they made that reflects their experience at NVAM and with Stuart.


I place this flower at Impact Family Center because peace brings unity and Impact Family Center has a way of bringing people together as community.
I put this flower on my couch. The reason why I have put this on my couch is because this was a couch my grandmother gave to my family, and she passed away. I cherish this couch, and value it.(JPG 51-215 Sent in Previous email)
Every individual deserves to live a prosperous and healthy life full of blessings; the lighting was too bright so I couldn’t take a picture with the words showing. (JPG 7209) 
I decided to place my Poppy at Robichaux Park , located on 9247 S Eggleston. In July a neighborhood friend was shot at this park 2 days before his college orientation, and died. I have a lot of friends that still go to this park , along with little kids. This is why I placed my Poppy here. This is a place where peace is needed.
I place this flower here for peace because we need better lives and better people that’s not killing each other over they most craziest things in the world. 
I put this flower on my couch. The reason why I have put this on my couch is because this was a couch my grandmother gave to my family, and she passed away. I cherish this couch, and value it.
My  flower will be placed at Altgeld Park, on the West side of Chicago.  I practice football here in the mornings and there is a large homeless community.  When I walk from the train, you see a lot of them in the stands of the football field just waking up.  I place the flower here for peace in these peoples’ lives as they struggle living every day.

These flowers represent the love that we need to share the world because in order to be peaceful, you have to be loving and spread love to everyone and everywhere.

I put my flower on the stairs to show my steps to greatness.

The Invisible Population- a film by Monique at Free Spirit Media

The Invisible Population is a short film that explores the complicated role of women historically and currently serving in the military.  The film offers insight into veteran affairs and the special needs of women serving our country while offering insight into what is and can be done to aid our returning female veterans.


NVAM Volunteer and Vietnam Veteran Ned Ricks: Revisiting the 10th Calvary, Vietnam 70-71

“When I first viewed Ken Howard’s collection of pictures, it was as if I had encountered a long lost cousin or brother and started sharing memories. We would start with, “Do you remember the time we…” And we would  end up nodding and  smiling, not so much at what had occurred, but more from the experience that someone else had the same memory, the same album of experiences and impressions in their mind as well. His work took me back over forty years to bring some of those memories to just yesterday.”

-Ned Ricks

Ned Ricks, along with being one of our most dedicated volunteers at NVAM, is a retired Major of US Army Reserve and served as the Commanding Officer of  Troop C, 1st Squadron in the 10th Calvary in Vietnam from 1970-71. We are honored to have this video as a testament to the service of Ned and his squadron. We would like to thank Ken Howard for sharing this video with us and giving permission to share it online.

National Veterans Art Museum at the Chicago Childrens Museum at Navy Pier

Tell Me a Story I DON’T Know!
NVAM Education workshops at the Chicago Childrens Museum at Navy Pier

The art in the National Veterans Art Museum collection showcases the memories, experiences and histories of our nation and the veterans who have served to protect it.  Each work of art shares the unique stories of the individual who made it and provides the opportunity to start a conversation resulting in a deeper, more meaningful learning experience. The art brings history to life through the eyes of those who lived it.  For our younger audiences, the museum is careful to select age appropriate art from our collection that allows children and their families access to understanding and exploration of veteran voices through art.

In March, NVAM was excited to have the opportunity to work with young artists and their families at the Chicago Children’s Museum.  The Tell Me a Story I DON’T Know!  workshops  invited museum visitors to share stories while creating a portrait of one another.  The workshop theme was inspired by the 100 Faces of War Experience and the process of meeting and speaking with each veteran the way Matt Mitchell did over the course of his 9 year project.

Reavis High School: Winds of War

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!

Alexis Z. // Daniel M. // Daniel P // Ivette G // John G.

Kamil G. // Marcin C. // Matt P. // Pawel Z. // Yaritza H

“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.

Veteran History Project: Student Edition Interviews

The following are interviews made through a collaboration between the NVAM and VHP-SE which organizes activities and experiences that engage students in journalism while also providing historic knowledge. Find more information at

Vietnam Veteran and volunteer at NVAM, Jim Moore, is interviewed by the Veterans History Project-Student Edition at the National Veterans Art Musuem


Students from Reavis High School interview Vietnam veteran Ned Ricks at the National Veterans Art Museum.


Students from Reavis High School interview resident artist and veteran Erica Slone and director of the Veterans History Project-Student Edition in Chicago, Travis Bickford at the National Veterans Art Museum.


A second group of students from Reavis High Shcool interview Veteran and director of the Veterans History Project-Student Edition, Travis Bickford at the National Veterans Art Museum.


Veterans History Project Student Edition

Veterans History Project from Free Spirit Media on Vimeo.

The Veterans History Project gathered high school students from the Chicago Military Academy and Free Spirit Media to film and interview veterans.

These video interviews will be archived at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. &


Check out the Behind the Scenes video of the Veterans History Project:

Veterans History Project: Behind the Scenes from Free Spirit Media on Vimeo.