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CHICAGO, IL – The National Veterans Art Museum (NVAM) will celebrate the first anniversary in its location at 4041 N. Milwaukee Avenue with a reception to unveil its newest art exhibition, Esprit de Corps, an exhibition highlighting the spirit of creative resilience. Esprit de Corps features art by nine veterans of Vietnam, Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and the Global War on Terror. The NVAM will be free and open to the public with programming and light refreshments from 5 PM – 9 PM on Veterans Day, November 11, 2013. A keynote address by Dr. Jack Bulmash, Chief of Staff of the Hines VA Hospital will take place at 6 p.m.

The show will be open to the public from Monday, November 11, 2013 through August 1, 2014. Esprit de Corps is sponsored by Omicron, Bank of America and Paratech Incorporated.

Drawing on breakthroughs in using art to assist with reintegration of veterans and for therapeutic expression, Esprit de Corps traces the process and roles of therapeutic art from the act of initial perception through expression of experience to an ultimate communal sharing and understanding of the real impact of war. Highlights of programming based on Esprit de Corps include a series of therapeutic art workshops as well as an expanded and interactive arts and civics education programming.

Featured artists include Joe Fornelli, Jerry Frech, Jonathan Hancock, Peter Sullivan, Benjamin Suarez, Thomas Gilbertson, Ted Gostas, Rick Williams and Erica Slone.

Esprit de Corps is presented in conjunction with performances of Veterans’ Voices. Veterans’ Voices was created by Erasing the Distance with students from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology and focuses on the mental health issues facing servicemen and women, veterans, and their families. Veterans’ Voices opens on November 11, 2013 at 7:30 p.m. (at the Filament Theatre, downstairs from the National Veterans Art Museum) and runs for six performances. The National Veterans Art Museum will offer free creative art workshops for youth ages 3-18 during the performances on November 12, 13, 18 and 19 (so that parents can attend the performance).

WHAT: Press Preview; Opening Reception and Keynote Address

WHO: National Veterans Art Museum

WHEN:

  • Press Preview on Thursday, November 7, 2013 from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM CST with Executive Director Levi Moore, Chairman of the Board of Directors Lionel Rabb, curators Destinee Oitzinger, Susan Zielinski and Sarah Eilefson, and veteran artists Joe Fornelli, Erica Slone and Peter Sullivan.
  • Opening Reception on Monday, November 11, 2013 from 5 PM – 9 PM CST. Keynote address by Dr. Jack Bulmash at 6 PM. Veteran artists to be present include Joe Fornelli, Jonathan Hancock, Peter Sullivan, and Erica Slone.

WHERE: Both events at the National Veterans Art Museum, 4041 N. Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago, IL 60641.

WHY: As Therapeutic Art Coordinator Susan Zielinski notes, arts exhibits and programming like Esprit de Corps can help expand the ways in which people look at and think about veteran experiences, especially the creative resilience behind many of the visual and performing arts.

Iraq War veteran Jerry Frech has loaned a series of journals that he kept during his service in the U.S. Air Force in Security Forces in 2006. These journals record his thoughts and observations in writing and in sketches. Of his journals, Frech notes, “I found myself surrounded by negativity, sorrow and, yes, drama. Without a lot of options to get away from all of the negativity, I escaped the only way I knew how: art.”

Erica Slone, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force for six years who served multiple deployments in the Global War on Terror, will serve as an artist in residence with an open studio. Of her interactive and on-site work, Slone comments, “I have spent the past five years researching military veterans’ experiences and making art around bridging the disconnection between veterans and contemporary civilian society. Through giving physical form to my own experiences of war, and through social engagement art projects, my work aims to create space for and facilitate intergroup dialogue around current, divisive, socio-political issues.”

NVAM Executive Director Levi Moore celebrated Dr. Bulmash’s keynote address, noting, “We welcome Dr. Bulmash to speak directly to issues of art therapy and therapeutic art and their potential for helping servicemen and women grow and develop following their military experiences.”

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