BATTLE CREEK, Mich. –
Veteran created artwork was on full display within the Hart-Dole-Inouye Federal Center as part of an annual art show. The artwork consisted of entries into the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival and ranged from paintings and photos to sculptures and quilt work.
The festival in its present format began in 1989, designed to showcase the artistic achievements of veterans from around the country. It features five artistic divisions including the art exhibit which has 51 categories.
“This is an annual event, and this is the first year partnering with [Morale Welfare and Recreation],” said Pamela Dickinson, the local coordinator for the National Creative Arts Festival. “This was a great opportunity to get some more exposure, and also to include the patrons here at the Federal Center who don’t know about this competition.”
Due to the prior year’s quarantining and limitations on the amount of people within the building the participation in the show was more limited than in the past. But the newfound partnership between the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs and MWR was still considered a success in promoting the local art show in Battle Creek.
“Getting the word out that there are art shows that can show what you’ve been through and your journey, said Amanda Gentis, Battle Creek’s MWR event planner as discussed the goal of the program. “We had a pretty good turnout. I think it was a really good outcome and I really loved [the artwork]. I helped judge a few of the pieces and you really fall in love with the meaning behind some of these pieces.”
It’s the meaning behind these pieces of art that allows everyone who sees the artwork a glimpse into the lives of the veterans who created them.
“To hear their stories, it’s amazing,” Dickinson said. “We are just honored to be able to display their work and that someone is interested in hearing their stories.”
Participants that earn first place in the local competitions, move on to the national competition. Those who make it to the finals engage in a week of activities including listening to speakers and participating in different therapeutic events.