A new tenant has moved into Sabine Street Studios that is unlike many of the other artists and groups that are part of the Sawyer Yards studio complex.
Warriors in Art (WIA) is a 1-year-old nonprofit that is providing art instruction to veterans. In fact, the founders of WIA have not found any other nonprofits at all like theirs.
A chance encounter brought together the two visionaries that formed WIA.
Michael Reynolds retired from the Marine Corps after 13 years of active duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, and he was injured in combat. He was exposed to art therapy following his injury in Afghanistan and found it integral to his transitional process. Reynolds’ experience with art led him to express his experiences with painting and drawing and inspired his vision for providing art instruction to veterans.
Linda Morales is an Air Force veteran, having spent six years in logistics and the last three in the Military Equal Opportunity program, and currently is an occupational therapist. Morales enjoys creating, including photography, music, painting and drawing. She wanted to find a space for veteran artists to show their creativity to the community and found that there was none.
“Michael and I met and discussed his vision for providing art instruction to veterans as a transitional tool, as well as an opportunity for them to connect with others,” Morales said. “We were both motivated by our experiences and our desire to help other veterans and our community, and WIA was the product of our vision for a positive and lasting legacy.”
Are any of the founders or board members artists?
“Michael is an artist who paints and draws, and you will find his artwork currently on display in our studio (1907 Sabine St., Studio 115),” Morales said. “I take photographs and am also working on re-visiting skills I learned in college in art classes, and hope to have some works ready to display in the near future.”
Is creating art therapeutic?
“An activity is therapeutic, by nature, if it is healing,” Morales said. “As an occupational therapist, I understand the idea of engaging in an activity that allows for expression and completion of a product as therapeutic. Our program, however, is not art therapy, but a program that uses art as a means of expression, and as Michael says, is a ‘language equalizer.’
“We are providing a skill that allows veterans to learn and create as well as connect with other veteran artists and to their community,” Morales continued. “We are providing a way for them to tell their story to an audience that wants to hear it. WIA’s program is a six-month art program with a curriculum that is currently focused on painting and drawing, with future plans to expand to other (media).”
What kind of activities are planned in the Sabine Street space?
“We are conducting weekly art classes, with open studio time on Second Saturdays,” Morales said. “We are also planning our first anniversary and open house on June 1 in the studio space. We will have regular social/networking events once a month to encourage other veterans, veteran artists and community artists to connect.”
Morales is part of the initial program, primarily for feedback as a board member. She joins five other veterans chosen to take part in the inaugural class. In addition to participating in the Second Saturday Open Studios (1907 Sabine St., Studio 115), find the WIA booth at The Market at Sawyer Yards this Saturday, too. As the students progress, they plan to bring finished veteran art to the market. For now, they’ll have T-shirts, pins and bags with all proceeds going directly to provide art supplies.
Interested veterans can contact Morales at firstname.lastname@example.org or Reynolds at email@example.com, or visit www.warriorsinart.org. https://www.instagram.com/warriors_in_art https://www.facebook.com/warriorsinart/
Interested sponsors can support the WIA mission using Zelle or Venmo at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cohen is an artist and founder of First Saturday Arts Market and The Market at Sawyer Yards. Find him at ArtValet.com.