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Annual Art Show Offers Veterans A Creative Escape

Curtis Tasset

The veterans of the Robert J. Dole VA Medical Center wanted a creative outlet.

When Christina Vasquez was hired in 2017 as the center’s art therapist, she gave them one.

“I heard from multiple veterans that expressed a need for art exhibits and outlets and creativity opportunities,” Vasquez says.

The center’s annual veteran art show gives them a space to be acknowledged for their talent. First place winners can go on to enter the 2020 National Art Competition.

The categories featured in the exhibit include special recognition, military combat experience and digital art. The special recognition category requires them to describe physical or mental health challenges they had to overcome to create the art.

Richard Dillard is one of the entries in this year’s art show. He says he’s been making copper wire sculptures since 1975.

“It lets you take your mind to a place where you’re away from all the problems of the world — an escape,” Dillard says.

Dillard says a lot of veterans are artists because of the escapism aspect.

“Well it sheds a light on the art that veterans have within ‘em,” Dillard says, “and that comes from the experiences that they’ve had over the years in the different wars they’ve gone to.”

Almost all mediums of art can be entered, including kit art. Veterans can also submit work just for show if they don’t want to compete.

The event is open to the public and will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Feb. 28 at the Robert J. Dole VAMC Auditorium.