Nonprofit organization CreatiVets collaborated with VCUarts and VCU Office of Military Student Services to help veterans use art to process their war experiences. Seven veterans participated in the partnership’s inaugural course, which took place last June in Richmond.
The participating veterans have struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury or amputation. During the course, the veterans used creative writing, woodworking, digital media and other art forms to foster self- expression and transform their stories of trauma and struggle. The classes were taught primarily by Craft/Material Studies Adjunct Faculty Alicia Dietz (MFA ’16), who is herself a veteran.
Founded by Marine veteran Richard Casper, CreatiVets began as a series of songwriting sessions in Nashville that helped him cope with PTSD and traumatic brain injury. Working with VCUarts Associate Dean Christina Lindholm and Director of Military Student Services Stephen Ross, Casper was able to successfully launch the program at VCU. The course culminated in an art exhibition at the Depot.
“We owe these veterans; they have put themselves on the line,” says Lindholm. “This program lets them know that they’re not alone. It gives them a whole new avenue to express things they couldn’t necessarily find the words for.”
For Lindholm, the most powerful experience she had with CreatiVets was during a printmaking class taught by Adjunct Instructor Brooke Inman (MFA ’08), when VCUarts students exchanged work with veterans.
“What they were producing had deep-rooted meaning and was really reflective of their experience,” says Lindholm. “And the generous spirit with which the students treated the veterans was affirming to me as someone associated with the School of the Arts.”
Read more about Creativets founder Richard Casper in Time.
Story featured in VCUarts 2017 Fall Studio.