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Spiva Center for the Arts Joplin MO


August 18 – October 6, 2018

At Ease: Veteran Contemporary

Sponsored by the Hartley Family Philanthropic Foundation and John and Joy Cragin

Curator’s Statement:

Following 8.5 years in the Air Force with two tours in Iraq, the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) began to overwhelm my life shortly after leaving military service. Seeking traditional therapies through a failing Veterans Affairs healthcare system, I began to research alternative therapies to treat the symptoms of PTSD. Experiencing relief through college art courses, I sought out veteran art experiences. I attribute the arts as the foundation for my healing.

At Ease: Veteran Contemporary surveys the military experience through the eyes of veteran artists. The artwork gives insight into combat, something most humans never experience, as well as the effects of conflict in a post-military life.

The artwork portrays the combat experience through the eyes of soldiers on the frontlines and family members on the home front. Another theme explored are the effects of the combat experience on a veteran’s psyche. The exhibit primarily features pieces from two collections, the National Veteran Art Museum in Chicago and ART-Ifacts from Art and the Military. In addition, pieces from two regional veterans will be showcased, Edmund Ness of Baxter Springs and Jim Leedy of Kansas City. In addition, I have an included my own piece.

Each veteran experiences the military in different ways. A veteran may have spent their entire military career protected from the direct effects of war, never deploying to a combat zone. Others spend years away from the normalcy of the society, experiencing humanity at its worst. Some are minimally affected by their exposure to death, destruction, and violence. Some come home with psychological scars. Unfortunately, psychological injury occurs in a split second and can last a lifetime. The artwork exhibited in this gallery are snapshots of time and experiences; an examination of a current moment or moments of the past.


Aaron Skapik, Curator, August 2018




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