In times of uncertainty and isolation, connection and self-expression aremore important than ever. In the spirit of finding a silver lining around the cloud of COVID-19, the Coop restaurant in North Chatham is hosting an outdoor art show over Labor Day weekend, Sept. 5 and 6 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. featuring the work of the talented artists of Uniting US. Strict social distancing will be observed at the show, and masks will be both required and provided if needed. The artists of Uniting US will receive 100 percent of any sales and artist sponsorships.
Uniting US is a national group of veterans and family who promote art-making and creation as a source of wellness. Some of the artists involved live in a veterans' hospital in the Washington, D.C. area. Some are retired vets, and many are women. All value making art as a mode of healing. All of the artwork in the exhibit has been created by a service member, a family member or a caregiver. Unlike most traditional sales of artwork in an exhibit, Uniting US takes no commission from the sales. Every purchase will go in its entirety to the artist who created the work.
Contributor Cynthia Scott, an Air Force veteran who served from 1979 to 2007, has a unique attachment to the neighborhood where the art show will take place. Her parents’ home is across the street. Her father Melvin Scott, a woodworker, was the founder of the Wood You Remember Gallery in that location from the 1990s to about 2002. She received a warm reception in downtown Chatham as she spread the word about the art show recently, passing out flyers and speaking with local business owners about Uniting US.
“Everyone I spoke with was interested and excited about the show,” Scott said. “I think people were very responsive because they are eager to get out and support each other.”
Scott’s artwork will be featured along with the work of nine other artists, although there are many more artists involved in Uniting US. The group will be holding another outdoor art show simultaneously in Washington, D.C. on Labor Day weekend.
“Art is healing,” Scott said. “There is a strong sense of community among veterans. They know how to work together, and the artists in this group are dynamic. When you create something and you work together with your community, you become stronger. Art helps people to become even more resilient.”
In addition to displaying her paintings, Scott will also be on hand at the exhibition to offer Tarot card readings using a prototype deck of her own design. Her Tarot card collage on canvas board titled “The Tower” depicts the attack on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. “In Tarot readings, the Tower card suggests sudden, dramatic change,” Scott explained. “This was certainly the case for me as I left my Houston home and was mobilized to the Pentagon immediately after the attacks. I use my original Tarot deck for my own contemplation, and readings with friends.”
Artist Tiffany Wheeler, an Air Force family member, created a three-dimensional piece made of broken glass assembled with metal solder titled “My Broken Heart Made Whole.” The artist explained that her inspiration was to take shattered pieces and create something beautiful. She said that creating art helps her to find peace in a chaotic world, and that her art helps to calm what she describes as her “inner chaos.”
Artist Kasse Andrews-Weller, an Air Force veteran, created a sculpture out of clay, wood and paint titled “Do Something to Band Aid US.” She has two master’s degrees: one in fine arts sculpture, and one in strategic studies. She said that creating art provides serenity, and that exhibiting her work validates her effort while allowing her to share her emotions and expressions with others.
Artist and Army Veteran Michael Green lives in the Community Living Center of the Washington, D.C. V.A. Medical Center. Faces are his favorite subject matter, and he finds joy in displaying his work as well as helping others have access to art.
The exhibit will also feature the work of Uniting US artists Kelly McPhee, a Navy veteran; Elizabeth McPhee; Army family member Susan Schwei; Army veteran April Goodwin-Gil; and Air Force veteran AnnMarie Halterman.
The Coop restaurant is located at 247 Orleans Rd. in North Chatham. For more information visit unitingus.org or email email@example.com.