We are in a time where vets are welcomed home and then forgotten.   art is the answer

Since the beginning of time, sailors and soldiers  have told the story of what they saw and experienced that could find no other expression but through folk art.

Whether fighting because of belief or pressed into service, part of the experience is the forced loss of self,  for the cohesion of the group.  In uniform.  It is just that... uniform.  Human’s are not by nature a herd animal.  a worker bee has no need to express who he is because he is no more then a...worker bee.  Man must express who he is on a very elemental level or he stops being MAN.  And often in these circumstances of war he must do or see or experience  the inhuman.  The military will train for this to be part of the group dynamic, to do what must be done. But these men and women are not then re-trained to once again be human--to be individuals.  Often they are expected to just turn a switch which doesn’t exist. They come home different, closed off.  It has nothing to do with the popularity of the war or simpler times.  Men and women returned from World War II and never spoke of those years.  period. they could only talk with others who had “been there”.

in scrimshaws, or knots, paintings on leather bomber jackets,  or tattoos, or graffiti, or carvings...” I AM”  is cried out.


The end of war has usually brought prosperity for the winner, a bump in the birthrate, and an explosion in art that takes us in a radically new direction. In almost all cases this art centers around individual expression.  World War I’s “lost generation” threw off the formality of  the Victorian and Edwardian ages. they drank, smoked and lived as if there was no tomorrow.  The 20’s was the creative burst that  was the response to repressing man’s individuality during the war.  It was the end of the birthright class system. Anyone could make a million and be a member of the 400, or so they thought.   The ‘how do I get my million’ was the creative impetus. This is the positive response. But the horrors  that the boys suffered “over there,” the kind  not spoken of, had their effects as well. 

Not being able to express what they had lived,  felt and seen made it impossible for many of them to ever really come home.  PTSD? The very idea would have been laughed at.  Exercise, and baths or rest would have been all that was offered.  When war is over those who were injured were expected to retreat into the shadows and trot out once a years for poppies.  They had received a parade after all.  For the lucky few art was the answer. That brought them if not all the way back, at least gave them a means to express and expel the experience.

It took ten years to percolate up in ernest Hemingway but he was finally able to translate experience into his first novel The Sun Also Rises.  For him salvation--for us--the modernist Novel was born.

The  hollywood propaganda of the 1940s presented in technicolor fantasies of a romanticized American family was created to tell the boys what they were fighting for.  It worked so well and sold so many bonds that madison Avenue saw no reason for it to end.  This American Dream lets pretend for the boys, became the basis of the “Leave it to beaver” simpler life.  How could one have expressed what it was like to have taken part in the fire bombing  of dresden.  If a soldier had trouble readjusting he was offered a lobotomy or shock treatment, and a ticket to the movies.  Those who had art railed against the technicolored madison avenue happy endings with film noir where the endings were more murky.

Vietnam showed us the man behind the curtain was not a man but a machine that needed war.  Seeing the dead every night on the evening news was a very different way for the home-front to experience war. ++++then a singer in a ball gown  on the radio singing “when the lights come again.”   This was ugly, this was not black and white morality. The result was a generational and national  divide that was never healed.   The soldier who came home was offered what has increasingly become the isolation of technology  and drugs.  Dinner with Dad at the dining room table was dead.

The men and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are not coming home to a GI bill or parades and many not even to jobs.  This is short sighted.  The GI Bill gave rise to writers and artists and engineers and made the longest boom in history possible.

It is unlikely these returning men and women  will get to share in the boom times that happened after most of the wars in our times.   It is good that so many have survived but that means so many more are coming back damaged. 

We know that one of the best ways man declares I AM, is through art.  And the internet allows every writer to be published and every bit of everybody’s day to be seen by millions. But it is unlikely that the healing needed will happen by putting up your own page on face book. The kind of art that heals these wounds requires more.  The American Arts Trust has begun working with an outstanding network of medical professionals as well as artists in varying disciplines and are in the process of creating

the Colonel Harvey L Schultz Memorial Wall

This will be a virtual wall where veterans can post and share their art.  Be it graffiti, stories, painting, carving, ceramic,  stitchery, whatever medium works for them.  Open to individuals or groups.   

The American Arts Trust is looking for experts to provide mentorship, guidance, support, networking, education,  lessons, and where possible,  help finding local contacts.  We want to provide a safe, free space for those who served America. 

When you scream

I am

the American Arts Trust will scream back

yes you are.

Art is the answer

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