KCAD Student Veterans Share Their Unique Stories Through Art and Design
For student veterans at Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris Sate University (KCAD), their creative output tends to overshadow their service to their country. A new exhibition on campus, however, is aiming to change that.
Now open in the college’s Helen Miller Gallery (1st floor, 17 Fountain Street NW building), “Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot: An Exhibition of Veteran Art and Design” features work from nine KCAD student veterans in a variety of different media, including ceramics, drawing, furniture design, painting, photography, metals, and sculpture. There is an incredible diversity of talent on display, and while some pieces bear the direct influence of their creator’s military service, others deal with different subject matter entirely.
Hand Study by Anthony Murtha
The exhibition is the brainchild of the KCAD Student Veteran Alliance, a student organization that facilitates connections among student veterans and fosters a culture of support on campus.
“By holding the exhibition we hope to showcase the uniquely diverse skillset possessed by our student veterans, as well as promote their abilities and give a means to tell their stories of military life,” said Anthony Murtha, a Collaborative Design senior and U.S. Navy veteran who serves as head of the KCAD Student Veteran Alliance. “We have all submitted some form of bio that attendees can read to get a sense of our personal experiences and how they have affected the work we’ve produced. It’s a cool way to get a closer look at a somewhat stigmatized group: veterans of war.”
A Still Morning by Matthew Johnson
Murtha and others will also be reaching out to local veterans organizations to broaden the conversation on creativity and military service surrounding the exhibition.“We hope to connect with local veteran organizations such as the Veterans Administration Health Clinic and the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans,” said Murtha. “We’re hoping to connect the older generation veterans with the younger veterans of present day warfare. We’d like to show thanks and share stories while learning from each other.”
Nicole DeKraker, Director of Student Engagement at KCAD, says she hopes to see this type of exhibition become an annual or semi-annual event. “Veterans have long been an integral part of our student body, but it’s inspiring to see how the Student Veteran Alliance has really taken the initiative to given student veterans a strong communal identity and a platform for showcasing their unique creativity. This exhibition really reflects the strong emphasis KCAD places on building community, and the college would absolutely support more events like this in the future.”
Portrait of a Man #1 by Anthony Murtha
“Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot” will run through April 11, 2016. A closing reception for the exhibition, free and open to the public, will be held on April 9 from 4-6pm in conjunction with the Avenue for the Arts’ annual Art.Downtown. event. The Helen Miller Gallery is open Monday-Sunday from 12-9pm.
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