NVAM teens participate in Creative Community workshop with Maurice Costello

Last Saturday, veteran artist Maurice Costello led the workshop Unconventional Approaches to Painting where magazine pages were utilized as studies in tone and shading. By using only black, dark grey, light grey, and white acrylic paint, participants colored over portions of the magazine page that matched the tonal value. The results were fascinating! Below are images of the NVAM teen council showing off their work. It seemed like once the teens got the hang of the activity, they used the parameters of the assignment to focus on brushwork and demonstrated the experimentation that can occur when placed in an art making situation with boundaries.

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To find out more about Maurice Costello’s work, visit http://mauricestudios.com/artwork1.html

Teen council makes awesome tote bags for After School Matters store!

After learning about stencil street art, the NVAM teen council made stencils and applied them to canvas tote bags that will be sold in the After School Matters storefront on 66 E. Randolph St. All proceeds go directly back into the After School Matters program fund, so the next time you find yourself near Millennium Park swing by the ASM store and support Chicago’s teens!

stencil totes stencil totes total

And We’re Back & It’s Cold: The Great Artdoors 2015

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.

Angel in the Desert
Angel in the Desert by Marcus Eriksen
The Earth Lies Screaming and The Atomic Skull by Jim Leedy
The Earth Lies Screaming and The Atomic Skull by Jim Leedy

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.

Minimum Monument by Nele Azevedo
Minimum Monument by Nele Azevedo

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:

Yesterday I was, Today I am

Yesterday I was, Today I am (YIWTIA) is a workshop created by the National Veterans Art Museum Education Team that invites participants to create a diptych (two-image) animated GIF (Graphic Interface Format) using Mozilla PopcornMaker to address a personal narrative: Yesterday I was _____, Today I am _____. YIWTIA GIFs are showcased together on NVAM Out Loud. Below is a collection of GIFs from the National Veteran Art Museum Collection, NVAM Teen Council, and other members of our community.

We invite you to create your own GIF using Mozilla PopcornMaker and tag #YIWTIA. You can even remix/respond to existing YIWTIA GIFs! Share the link of your Yesterday I was, Today I am creations in the comments below or e-mail the link to info@nvam.org.

Aug 11, 2015:
Unfortunately, Mozilla has discontinued support for Popcorn Maker online. However Yesterday I was, Today I am continues as a part of NVAM’s educational curriculum using Photoshop to create GIFs!

Nov 22, 2014:
NVAM Teen Council led Yesterday I was, Today I am at Flagship: An Art Exhibition Created by the Students at LEARN Charter School” at the Great Lakes Naval Museum! The teens held the workshop for some of the coolest elementary school kids. Check the gallery for photos!

Nov 18, 2014:

NVAM Out Loud was invited to present Yesterday I was, Today I am at the C3 Student Clubs Summit mini-Maker Party at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. Check out the YIWTIA GIFs below!

Oct 28, 2014:
NVAM Education is back at the National Veterans Art Museum and have uploaded the YIWTIA GIFs made during MozFest 2014 to the blog, check them out below!

Oct 24, 2014:
Second day in London and first day of MozFest 2014! NVAM Education will be presenting Yesterday I was, Today I am on Oct 25 with the Hive Maker Party! Check out how to participate in the Yesterday I was, Today I am workshop at here!

Oct 10, 2014:
The NVAM Education Team has been invited to represent 
Hive Chicago and presentYesterday I was, Today I am at MozFest 2014 in London, UK! While NVAM Education is presenting YIWTIA in London, NVAM Teen Council will be at Collect-O-Rama on October 25th presenting YIWTIA at a mini-Maker party hosted by Intuit: the Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art.

Check back October 23-27 for international updates!


How To Use Mozilla PopcornMaker to Make a YIWTIA GIF!connectedlearning_yiwtia

By Maurice Costello Served in Vietnam, U.S. Army 196th Light Infantry Brigade 1967-68
By Maurice Costello Served in Vietnam, U.S. Army 196th Light Infantry Brigade 1967-68


Reflecting on war, art and history: London, 2014

Spending time in London has served as a poignant reminder of how war can create indelible marks on the landscape and collective memory of a country.  This year marks the 100 anniversary of the beginning of Britain’s involvement in the first World War. Through out the city there are monuments, art displays and other tributes to the soldiers who fought to defend Great Britain.  One of the most powerful is Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, an installation at the Tower of London where the ceramic artist Paul Cummins and stage designer Tom Piper have installed 888,246 ceramic poppies within the Tower’s famous moat and pour over the castle walls. Each poppy represents a British military fatality during the war and serves as a massive visual reference to the tremendous loss of life during this conflict.  Each poppy has been sold to the public to raise millions of pounds to be divided among 6 UK charities that support veterans and military families.

Another powerful body of work was a collection of photographs revisiting sites of conflict from the first World War.  Fields of Battle, Lands of Peace  is an outdoor touring exhibition and educational resource center featuring 60 large scale photographs capturing the World War landscapes as they are today. “Based not on the horrors of war, but how time and nature can heal the most scarred battle landscape, the exhibition seeks to engage every community in the First World War commemorations, via an extensive tour of UK cities and town centers between 2014 and 2018,”  the duration of Britain’s involvement in the conflict. (Michael St Maur Sheil, artist).

Seeing these artworks reminded me how fortunate we are an Americans to have not seen a war fought within the United States since the Civil War and how art can be used to transform powerful narratives into lasting reminders of history and heroism.


-From Oct 22-27, NVAM education was honored to travel to London on behalf of Hive Chicago to represent NVAM at Mozfest

Teen Council goes to the Chicago History Museum!

What happens when you take 15 teens to the Chicago History Museum?

First of all– I was impressed by the connections and insight that the teens made in regards to engaging with history and their role in the results of important social political and cultural events that impacted our city as well as the country as a whole.

We spent time looking at photos in the Vivian Maier exhibition which captures the streets and people of Chicago in candid, everyday happenings.  These photos highlighted important historical events like the Democratic Convention of 1968 and the race riots following the assassination of Martin luther King Jr., but it also showcased the day to day moments that reveal the true life of the city.  Both themes were recognized and admired by the teens who could recognize neighborhoods and contemplate how these events affected the lives they are living today– both similar and different, complicated and commonplace.

This sentiment continued in our viewing of the Exhibition 1968 which showcases the overwhelming multitude of events and trends of the year that shaped the future of our country, still evident today. From these events, teens were asked to focus on one that really stood out or grabbed their attention. This event will be used as inspiration for an art project we will be working on in the coming weeks looking at identity, history and looking into the future. Additional questions included what did you learn today?  Who will you be in 50 years? What will you remember and what will have changed? to supplement generating ideas for a reflective art project.

Teen Council made a list of things they learned during their trip. Here are a few highlights:

> The largest population of young people were entering college and being drafted (baby boomers) a major drive of the energy of the 60s.

> If Robert Kennedy was not assassinated he would probably have been elected president.

> The first Miss Black America Pageant was held, giving black women a chance to role model and represent their beauty.

> Don’t put ketchup on a Chicago Style Hot Dog




And so it begins… NVAM Teen Council Week 1!

NVAM Teen Council has begun, it is just the beginning but we are already doing some amazing things…

At the end of the first week on Saturday October 4th, 2014, NVAM TC members helped with a local cultural event: Our Portage, celebrating the 1 year anniversary of Portage by Ted Sitting Crow Garner. Portage is an aluminum sculpture by located on Cicero at Six Corners tributing the Native American Heritage of of the area. The teens set up a string of rope and colorful ribbons noting the pathway of a parade that passerbys could write positive messages on. After the parade, NVAM TC participated in an Exquisite Corpse workshop at the NVAM as a part of Chicago Artists Month. Participants were introduced to contemporary veteran artists work and processes. Then everyone got together to start the process of making exquisite corpses and participants ranged from the veteran artists, NVAM staff, NVAM TC, young children and their families, the public from Our Portage and more. Check the NVAM Out Loud Gallery soon for photos of the Exquisite Corpses!

Here are Week 1 Reflections of NVAM Teen Council:

The Vietnam War Lives On & On

My new position as the Assistant Education Coordinator at the National Veterans Art Museum has rekindled my interest in researching history and recognizing how relevant this history is in a contemporary context specifically through art. I think it is really important to understand the history of a place before and after war. For example long before 1954 when the Vietnam War started there is a long history of occupation and colonization by China (until the 9th century), France (1858-1940, 1945-1950), and Japan (1940-1945). The long enduring struggle of the Vietnamese people and a sense of ownership and freedom escalated into the Vietnam War.

Here is an incredibly brief look at this escalation: Ho Chi Minh, communist revolutionary leader, declared an independent Vietnam, called the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in 1945 and helped lead the defeat of the French Union at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu in 1954.The Vietnam War started in 1954 between Communist Northern Vietnam with the southern allies, the Viet Cong, against anti-communist Southern Vietnam and the United States (who declared it our nation’s mission to end communism). U.S. combat troops were sent in 1965 after assassination of Ngo Dinh Diem, first president of Southern Vietnam in 1963. After years of terror and violence, The United States withdrew forces in 1973, only two years prior when North Vietnamese overran the southern capital, Saigon, renaming it Ho Chi Minh City. Vietnam unified as a communist country, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, in 1976.

The Vietnam War ended years ago, but still remains as important as critical discussion as it’s influence on American culture from social politics to media and art. I am looking at the timeline of the history of the Vietnam War through the lens of protest music and the new lives that songs can have in different contexts and throughout time. Here is a small sample of songs from the beginning of my research:

>This selection of Vietnam War Protest songs begins with Eve of Destruction (1965) written by P.F. Sloan and performed by Barry McGuire which famously references the age that one could be drafted (18) versus the age that one could vote in the majority of states (21) “You’re old enough to kill, but not for voting”.

>Jim Morrison’s (The Doors) reaction to the Vietnam War with Unknown Soldier (1968) specifically references concerns in the way the public was receiving information about the war through the media. Images coming to the states from over seas from Vietnam were uncensored for the most part and it shocked the American public, causing immense distress. Veterans coming home from war were horribly mistreated from the misunderstanding of the images filtering through the media. Today the American public is “protected” from real images of war. For example this  The War Photo No One Would Publish” an article by Torie Rose DeGhett from The Atlantic, discusses a photograph taken by Kenneth Jareck on February 28, 1991 of an Iraqi soldier burned alive while trying to escape from his truck and how Jareck thought “The image and its anonymous subject might have come to symbolize the Gulf War. Instead, it went unpublished in the United States, not because of military obstruction but because of editorial choices”. What is right and wrong?

>I have also included I-Am-Fixin-To-Die Rag (1967) written by Country Joe McDonald, one of the more famous anti-war protest songs of Vietnam and the video is from an unplanned and impassioned performance of the song at Woodstock in 1969 which was featured with a bouncing ball, singalong in the 1970 documentary, Woodstock.

> War (1969) is a famous Motown song written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong as “a blatant anti-Vietnam war protest” originally recorded by The Temptations, however is most known for the powerful performance by Edwin Starr. War remains a popular song today and has also been performed by Frankie Goes to Hollywood and Bruce Springsteen.

>I chose to end the sample playlist with Orange Crush (1988) by R.E.M. one of my favorite bands growing up, but only from doing this research is it the first time that I recognized that Michael Stipe, lead singer, was singing about a young man going to Vietnam and Agent Orange, aerial herbicide manufactured for the U.S. Department of Defense by the Monsanto Corporation and Dow Chemical. It was been years since the Vietnam War ended, but contemporary artists are referencing what happened because the Vietnam War remains relevant and impactful today.

Please comment below for your thoughts, opinions, and feedback!

Moki Tantoco

Continue reading “The Vietnam War Lives On & On”

A week without teens…..

It’s been a quiet week here at NVAM. I came in Tuesday in a rush to get things done by 1pm only to realize that the program had ended and I wouldn’t be greeted by the usual sounds of rummaging through art materials, shaking of spray cans and all the smiles and laughter I looked forward to every afternoon. *sigh* The work space is still filled with all the residual art making bits and pieces– sketches and practice pieces, folders of notes and idea maps.  I MISS OUR TEENS!!


The good news…… August 14 we will it will be #25memories part 2 as we showcase all the amazing art made by the teen apprentices at the Destination Chicago event at the Chicago Cultural Center from 11am-3pm!! (come by and visit us!  We are showing tons of work and the blog right next to our partners YouMedia!)


AND!!! Teen council will start up in September! Woo hoo! Stay tuned for details! (and email education@nvam.org if you or someone you know is interested in signing up!)

NVAM Out Loud Presents: 25 Memories (In Progress!)

Reflection on Meeting Ned Ricks and Walter Reed by Cristian N.

Meeting Ned & WalterWhen Walter Reed gave us his background and experience in the Holocaust, I felt as if he impacted my full view on war. He told us their is never a winner, only losses due to war. Every person who is killed, is murdered and it does not matter if you were doing to protect your country it is still an act of murder. When Walter said this I felt as if he had opened my eyes to see clearly now. Ned Ricks is also an amazing Veteran, but his look on war and having an army was seemingly positive and something that we needed. Both of these great veterans were opposites of each other. I learned from both from these two amazing people.

Art Gallery: Cristian N.


Title: Going Into the Darkness

Made: July 2014

Description: This is a preview, a quick sketch, of my upcoming final project. As the middle child in my family I feel like it was a hard job to live with. Having to be a role model and follow in a older sibling’s foot steps was something hard for me to do. So when I started to become lazy in school, I felt like I wasn’t fitting the standards my family wanted. I felt like an outcast in my head. This artwork represents these feelings I have. The darkness represents me being overcome with confusion and sadness of not being able to fit in.


Title: Pikachu Stencil

Made: July 2014

Description: This is my first time working with spray paint and making a stencil. We worked with a veteran named Mel and he helped us try our first attempts at spray painting.



Art Gallery: Jeremy B.

Continue reading “Art Gallery: Jeremy B.”

Art Gallery: Ariana H.

These past four weeks at NVAM we have being working on drawing our memories and talking to veterans about their experiences in war. My favorite piece that I made in the past four week is The Green Land because I was free to us my hands or forks instead of traditional mediums.

Artwork by Jesus R.

These four past weeks at NVAM have thought me a lot about art that I didn’t know, and gave me experiences I have never had. For example, I have never drew about my memories and I have never combined my memories with anyone else’s memories. One thing I learned from talking to veterans and learning from their experiences is that once you shoot a human being it stays with you forever, and before I came to NVAM I thought once you kill a person you never think about it again, and go on with your life.

NVAM Out Loud Interviews Walter Reed

NVAM Out Loud interviews Walter Reed, Holocaust Survivor and U.S. Army WWII Veteran about his life and experiences from escaping Poland and coming to the states to becoming a U.S. citizen to serve into the U.S. Check out the teens reflection on both interviews with Walter Reed and Ned Ricks in CONNECTIONS under voices.

Finished/Unfinished Works of Art by Jeremy B.

Finished/Unfinished Works of Art

A finished work of art looks like whatever the artist wants it to look like. Other people may look at a piece of artwork and think that is is not finished, However, it may, indeed, be finished, according to the artist. It all depends on the artist’s vision on what he/she tried to do with the piece.

A finished work of art is something that the artist is proud of and something that requires nothing else to be added to it. An unfinished work of art is something that require some finishing touches or some changes. It can be something an artist is still working on or not yet proud of.

When is a Work of Art Finished and Unfinished? by Natalia S.

In my opinion, a work of art is never actually finished because there is always room for improvement or other ideas. However, it is completely up to the artist to decide whether he fulfilled his idea and if he fully expressed what he had in mind in his art. An artist can also make changes in his or her art. For example, if you make a mistake in a painting or decide that you want to change something later on, you can. If you make a mistake creating a drawing, you can take an eraser and fix it. Art will never be perfect and it all depends on how you see it. An artist’s opinion is the opinion that counts.

Week 1 Reflection: Paloma M.


Thoughout this week I did many new things. The drawing was fun although I wasn’t very good at it. The painting was really messy, but I enjoyed it. The hands on art was my favorite, such as the sculpture we made. its been a great experience working with other people, and it really opens my eyes. Although there have been things I’ve faced that I thought I couldn’t do, I was influenced to try and have fun. My favorite activity was the painting we did yesterday, because it taught me that not all art was thought of, but it came naturally. Therefore we don’t have to overthink our art, but just let it happen on its own. I learned many different new techniques in art that I didn’t know. I would have never imagined to find a picture in scribbles. I think I would only need to improve on communication and not to give up when I think I can’t accomplish something.