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Veterans Art Show showcases talent, therapeutic progress

Veteran Art Show graphic design

From live poetry and singing performances to painted ceramics and sculptures, the 2023 Veterans Art Show showcased the artistic talents of local Veterans in 23 categories.

Hosted by the Robert J. Dole VA Medical Center at the Mid-America All-Indian Museum, the art show not only displayed the artistic talents of local Veterans but also the therapeutic progress some have made in dealing with complex, trauma-based issues.

“Participating in art therapy is, first and foremost, a process through which our Veterans are heard, seen and understood as they redefine life, identity, and resiliency as their own,” said Christina Vasquez, board-certified art therapist at Dole VA.

Tina Ontiveros, a 4-year Air Force Veteran, won first place in the assemblage category with her Fancy Frida the Chicken. She says she has found art serves multiple purposes for her.

“Art keeps your mind busy, focused on creating instead of thinking about things that have happened,” Ms. Ontiveros said. “I was on a prescription medication to deal with my anxiety and depression, but I don’t like being on pills. Art has enabled me to lower my dose by about half and I’m making progress toward eliminating it completely.”

The annual show, co-sponsored by the American Legion Auxiliary, continues to grow each year. This year’s art show included 41 Veterans entering 104 pieces and performances, with winners in each category advancing to the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival (NVCAF) in Denver in Spring 2024. The show was attended by about 150.

“What began in 2018 with six Veterans submitting work directly to the NVCAF, has now become an all-inclusive event honoring our Veterans’ resiliency through expressive arts,” said Dr. Sameh Moawad, Dole VA’s Chief of Staff.

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