The spring art show at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine will feature the works of men and women of the armed forces, veterans, and their families and caretakers. The show, titled “Creative Forces: An Exhibit in Healing,” will feature an opening reception on Feb. 25 starting at 5:30 p.m. at the school, which is located at 2 Riverside Circle in Roanoke.

Artists include military members and veterans with brain and other physical injuries and PTSD, family members who engage in art to help cope with the challenges of having a loved one with these conditions, and caregivers who treat the injured.

This show is co-hosted by The Art League of Alexandria and the Salem VA Medical Center and is made up of works from several organizations that serve military personnel. These include IMPart, The Art League’s outreach program that connects returning injured military personnel with transformative art experiences; the Armed Services Arts Partnership, which cultivates community and growth with veterans, service members, military families, and caregivers through the arts; and ART-illery, which creates and cultivates local spaces in which returning veterans and community members can discuss and process their personal experiences of conflict through a myriad artistic disciplines.

IMPart is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts Military Healing Arts Network in partnership with the U.S. Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs. The network places creative arts therapies at 11 clinical sites throughout the country and promotes health, wellness, and quality of life for military service members, veterans, and their families and caregivers.

“Life after military service can pose many challenges to veterans and their families, and for those who return home with physical, mental, or emotional injuries, the transition is especially great,” said Dave Trinkle, associate dean for community and culture at the VTC School of Medicine. “We’re honored to recognize just a few of these veterans through their artwork and that of their families and caregivers, and we applaud the organizations that offer creative arts as a means of therapy.”

One dramatic exhibit in the show is part of an ongoing project with staff at the Walter Reed Military Medical Center. Staff members disassembled their hospital scrubs and uniforms, made them into paper, and dried them on top of radiation treatment masks from their patients, transforming the caregivers’ scrubs into likenesses of the people they cared for.

“The creative arts serve as a valuable tool to support the recovery process,” said Katie LeSauvage, psychologist at the VA Medical Center. “Through artistic expression, veterans have an opportunity to illustrate aspects of the struggle related to illness and factors that bring about change. The opportunity to share creative works with the larger community provides additional value by supporting connections and identities that extend beyond diagnoses.”

The art show will be on display through May.

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