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    Healing Is An Art, Art is Healing: Exhibit Highlights the Healing Power of Art

    Healing Is An Art, Art is Healing: Exhibit Highlights the Healing Power of Art

    Photo By Bernard Little | Service members look at art included in the Healing Arts Exhibit on display throughout...... read more read more



    Story by Bernard Little 

    Walter Reed National Military Medical Center

    Healing is an art, and art is healing was the sentiments shared among those who attended the opening ceremony for the 18th Annual Healing Arts Exhibit at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Oct. 27.
    The exhibit showcases artworks by military members, veterans, retirees, family members, WRNMMC staff, volunteers and others, many who received their health care at the medical center. The exhibit will be on display in the pavilion between the America Building and the America Garage at WRNMMC throughout November, Warrior Care Month.
    U.S. Public Health Service Capt. Moira McGuire, chief of the Arts in Health Program at WRNMMC, has been one of the coordinators for the exhibit since it began. “It’s amazing to think we have been able to put on this exhibit for 18 years,” she said. While there’s been some changes, McGuire said what hasn’t changed is the enthusiasm and excitement on the faces of people and what they say as they go through the exhibit.
    McGuire, also assistant chief of Integrated Health Services at WRNMMC, added it has always been a team effort to put on the exhibit, supported and nurtured by the John P. Murtha Cancer Center at WRNMMC and the arts and health activities at the medical center.
    The annual exhibit began as part of the medical center’s observance of Breast Cancer Awareness Month because most of the artwork was produced by breast cancer patients. The idea for the exhibit came when the hematology/oncology staff discovered the artwork patients were creating while being treated for breast cancer. Over the years, participation in the art show expanded to include the works by other patients, family members, staff and more.
    Brig. Gen. Jack Davis, WRNMMC director, added in addition to Breast Cancer Awareness Month, October is also National Arts and Humanities Month. “As the flagship of military medicine, we have a duty in leading the country in developing new and innovative resources to meet the challenging needs of our military community. These innovations include the emerging field of art and health.” He added the arts are “an [integral] and necessary component of the hospital environment to promote and maintain wellness.”
    Navy Capt. Carlos Williams, director of the National Intrepid Center of Excellence, agreed. NICoE, a part of WRNMMC, works to advance the clinical care, diagnosis, research and education of those in the military community with traumatic brain injuries and psychological health conditions, frequently called “the invisible wounds of war.” NICoE’s art therapy program, which has received national attention, started in 2010 and helps beneficiaries heal from the traumatic conditions, as well as express themselves and their emotions through art.
    “NICoE’s goal is to support people in holistically healing, and the creative arts program helps in accomplishing this mission,” Williams said.
    Louis Celli, an Army retiree, agreed. “We didn’t talk about our feelings during my generation of service. I didn’t understand what art therapy was, probably like the rest of the guys in my squad, platoon, company, and battalion. The evolution of the services to now recognize how important these types of programs are is instrumental in the healing process that goes on in the veterans we served with and interact with every single day, said Celli, who served as director of veterans affairs and rehabilitation with the American Legion.
    WRNMMC Command Master Chief Trey Hauptmann said art has always been a passion of his, “whether it was cooking and making the plates look appealing so my kids would eat, [or painting]. To actually spend time and create an emotion out of something, is what I’ve been always trying to do and what you will see in my art. It’s not one thing that I want you to see. I want you to interpret what you want to see. It’s your perspective that makes art great. It’s your perspective that makes the meaning come alive in your heart, your mind and your soul.”
    Veterans and former patients of WRNMMC affiliated with Uniting Us, a group focused on sharing the empowering quality of art, discussed their works and what inspires it during the exhibit’s opening ceremony.
    “Art has been a real gift to me,” said Dr. Alicia Christy, a retired Army colonel. “Art has allowed me to celebrate the heroes in my life,” she added.
    Christy’s portraits of “women who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars” are part of the Healing Arts Exhibit at WRNMMC. Her artwork has also been used in medical publications, and Colin Powell owned a portrait she did of him.
    Steve Alpert, a professional artist and veteran art mentor, taught art therapy classes at WRNMMC. He said his teaching philosophy is, “Artists make art to learn the truth about themselves. It’s about storytelling and your personal story, but no one has to know it’s your personal story.”
    April Goodwin-Gill, also an Army veteran, agreed. “The art I do has always kept me grounded. Sometimes, suicide is right around the door and I have to talk myself off the ledge. The way I do it is with my art. Thank God for the arts. Right when it seems like the ship is sinking, God will show me another way to be able to express myself, either through my paintings, dolls, stories and plays. I have to be able to express myself.”
    In his presidential proclamation for National Arts and Humanities Month, President Joe Biden stated, “We celebrate the power of the arts and humanities to provide solace, understanding and healing. We recognize the ability of the arts and humanities to amplify important and diverse voices and messages. We reflect on the fact that, as we have struggled with isolation, anxiety, and the loss of loved ones, we have turned to music and dance, literature and poetry, and philosophy and history to bring us together and help us persevere through, and grapple with, our current moment.”
    Biden added, “From our nation’s earliest days, we have recognized the arts as a foundation of our republic. As George Washington wrote in 1781, ‘The arts and sciences [are] essential to the prosperity of the state and to the ornament and happiness of human life.’ Today, any American, regardless of their background, can create art and turn to it for hope, acceptance and inspiration.”
    For more information about the Arts in Health Program at WRNMMC, contact Capt. Moira McGuire at 301-319-8755.



    Date Taken: 11.01.2021
    Date Posted: 11.01.2021 13:41
    Story ID: 408445
    Location: BETHESDA, MD, US

    Web Views: 725
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