Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Arts Show At The VA

An Arts Show at The VA of Pittsburgh showcased the skills of local veterans.

When Vietnam-era Army Veteran Richard Sobek won an award for his painting on Wednesday he wasn’t there to receive it – he has PTSD and when he’s in crowds, he is prone to panic attacks.

He came after the show, when the crowd had thinned out. Although he spent years working as a professional artist, he said he’s drawn to painting because its theraputic.

"For myself, when I draw, I take my mind off of my problems and pain and it puts you in a very quiet place cause yr doing nothing but focusing on every stroke, every brushstroke, every detail," he said.

Artwork helps a lot of the veterans in recovery says Marci Gaither, a psychologist at the VA who has organized the event for the last few years.

"Basically we just wanted to provide an opportunity for veterans to display some of their creative abilities and display a different part of themselves. Not just a veteran with mental illness but a veteran who is an artist," she said.

Different studies have shown that the creative process helps people cope with problems, develop interpersonal skills, reduce stress and increase their self-esteem.

Other artwork at the show also included woodworking, needlepoint, stained glass and photography. To have the work displayed, the veterans have to be receiving treatment at the VA – for either physical or mental issues. Many are there for both.

A permanent rotating art exhibit featuring the artwork of veterans will be installed at the VA Hospital on University Drive later this month.

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