An exhibit at the downtown Columbus library features artwork created by veterans.
Mike Foley reports.
Doodle to Fine Art includes projects created by veterans from a series of classes taught by Columbus artist Nicole Monahan. It also launched a Columbus VA research study examining the benefits of an art-making workshop for veterans. Organizers began with a simple question - can art make a difference in the health and well-being of veterans? For those with projects in the exhibit, the answer is a resounding yes.
“It’s kind of like taking a vacation, mentally. You’re really focusing on what’s in front of you, and it’s helping to relieve the stress," said Johnathan Walker, currently in the Air National Guard. "You can actually sit down and do something that takes your mind off some of those negative things, and you can create something positive.”
Patrick Paquin served in the U.S. Navy, Navy Reserve, and Air Force Reserve. For Paquin, art takes him back to his childhood.
“It was a safe place. Now as I’ve gotten older, it’s a relaxation,” Paquin said. “It’s something that calms me. I can concentrate on it. It’s mine. It’s not someone telling me what to do. It gives me a lot of control, but still it’s a challenge.”
U.S. Army veteran Shawn Augustson served in Iraq from 2004-2006. He spent a lot of time in the hospital with PTSD. Art helped Augustson communicate with his doctors, his family, and eventually everyday people.
“There’s something about art that’s kind of powerful,” Augustson said. “I started teaching myself how to paint, and that grew into photography. The photography really got me out of the house. Now, I go all over downtown Columbus and the Short North and do a lot of street photography. It allows me to share my story with people.”
Doodle to Fine Art also includes artwork from members of the Veterans Arts Council. President and Vietnam-era veteran Gloria Weimerskirch encourages people to spend a few extra seconds at each piece, because she says the art will reveal what it’s like to serve in the United States. The Columbus VA study in the fall of 2017 found that art-making workshops significantly improved social connectedness, self-esteem, stress, quality of life, and depression symptoms. Additional projects this year include wood working, stone carving, dance workshops, and a veteran choir. Doodle to Fine Art will be on display at the Columbus main library branch on South Grant Avenue through March 25.