Art as Therapy for Veterans

feat vetart1
"Reflections" (altered from original image)
© Denise Knebel

Distinguished Artist Veterans

Service members using art as therapy to readjust to everyday life

SAN ANTONIO – As a form of expression, art – paint, plaster, metal, photographs – can embody or capture a range of emotions. Among the many resources available to treat injured veterans returning from war, art helps treat the wounds that can’t be seen.
From Nov. 6 through Jan. 4, the Institute of Texan Cultures will host the fifth annual Distinguished Artist Veteran art show, coordinated by VSA Texas, the state organization on arts and disability. The show includes drawings, painting, sculptures, and jewelry addressing topics from issues relating to war and to the beauty of life, presented by disabled American veterans from Texas.
"Most Americans appreciate the service of our military, but sometimes we forget their commitment didn’t end at discharge," said Bryan Howard, director of exhibits at ITC. "There are often lifelong costs to military service, especially for those who saw combat or suffered an injury that altered their abilities. I’m proud ITC can partner with VSA Texas in showcasing the diverse talents that emerge as these veterans explore their creativity."
More than a dozen men and women who served, Korean War to present, have pieces in the art show. They are veterans, contending with disabilities, who make Texas their home.
"They did not identify as people with disabilities," said April Sullivan, a representative with VSA Texas. "They identified with other veterans. So VSA Texas decided to start an exhibit specifically for Texas veterans with disabilities."
The Distinguished Artist Veterans show has become an annual, juried exhibit that travels the state. VSA Texas makes a call for entries each year. Some of the artwork directly references veterans’ time served. Some veterans use their art as a way to heal from PTSD or trauma. Others create beautiful art reflecting the world around them.
"Whatever their reasons are for creating, displaying their artwork is a way to honor them as the artists they are now," said Sullivan.
The Institute of Texan Cultures is located on the UTSA HemisFair Park Campus, 801 E. César E. Chávez Blvd., a short distance from the Alamo and the River Walk. Regular hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Saturday; noon-5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $8 for adults (ages 12-64); $7 for seniors (ages 65+); $6 for children (ages 3-11); free with membership, UTSA or Alamo Colleges identification. For more information, call 210-458-2300 or visit




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