• New local art exhibit by veterans shares powerful message about PTSD

    By: Kevin Clark , Action News Jax

    Updated:

    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A new local art exhibit is on display at the University of North Florida.

    Powerful, evocative works of art now line the university’s student union.

    These paintings, sketches and poems bring to life the experiences of those who fight overseas, come home and struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder.

    “You can look at their paintings and see the anguish, the anxiety, the torture,” said Jerry Domask, a Vietnam veteran and the curator of the exhibit.

    The exhibit titled “Invisible Becoming Visible,” features the artwork of veterans who served in different wars dating back to the Cold War.

    The artists come from around the United States and have been honored with multiple Purple Hearts, a POW medal and other accolades.

    Domask says veterans have embraced art as an outlet to release trauma, find healing and communicate their experiences to those who may not understand.

    “Society doesn't understand what happens in a combat zone,” said Domask. “This provides the artists a voice, a stage and a dialogue with society.”

    Johnathan Clark, who lives in Chicago, served in Afghanistan and was medically discharged.

    He said he channels his pain into art that’s more positive.

    “For me it was cutting up pictures and putting them in my room,” he said, “And I used to do that just for the stress relief.”

    According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, an average of 20 veterans commit suicide a day.

    Clark said he still has destructive thoughts, but said having art as an outlet helps him tremendously.

    “There are always these voices that tell you maybe it’s time to go,” he said. “But there’s another voice that says, 'We should do something else. Let’s make some art. Let’s go out.'”

    The exhibit is located at 1 UNF Drive, in the Lufrano Gallery. It will be open to the public through Dec. 7.

    The hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday.

    If you would like to donate to help offset travel and lodging for these veteran artists, go to www.donorbox.org/veterans-art-project.

    You can also attend an opening reception and hear from four of the artists on Thursday, Nov. 8, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., at UNF’s Lufrano Gallery.

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