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The Body Reconfigured exhibit
October 22, 2019 @ 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm
An event every day that begins at 1:00 pm, repeating until November 24, 2019
Rockland Center for the Arts (RoCA) presents The Body Reconfigured, an exhibit of one Vietnam Veteran’s journey creating art to navigate through PTSD.
Howard Miller’s beautiful compositions resemble parts of the body in layered abstract compositions. Miller’s drawings are in pure pencil and charcoal in the cubism style influencing his era. He feels that the drawings are created from old memories in this life and perhaps even past lives. He draws with a hyper-focus, because of his need to lose himself in the process.
Howard Miller followed in the family footsteps and joined the Navy. Navy life was hard for Miller. He suffered from sleep deprivation, often working 24 hours a day. His aircraft carrier, the Lake Champlain experienced two crashes during his tour of duty. During a routine take off, one of the aircrafts crashed and four of his friends and shipmates died. As a sensitive young man, he was affected deeply. As a result of two disasters, Miller started to suffer from anxiety and depression. When he left the Navy in 1965, he turned to art to help him learn to cope with PTSD. Miller was awarded scholarships to attend the Arts Students League in 1974 and found that creating artwork eased his mind. Miller says “being an artist keeps his mind occupied and focused. Art keeps his anxiety at bay and prevents his mind from going into dark places. It keeps his mind focused on the beauty in life and has helped him appreciate what he has.”
Miller’s situation is representative of many veterans of war. According to Melissa Walker, Art Therapist & Healing Arts Program Coordinator of the National Intrepid Center for Excellence, “Trauma is actually encoded as sights, sounds, and smells. When you are able to process what you have been through using the right hemisphere and then apply words you are then reintegrating the brain.” The part of the brain that involves speech, brochus areia, does not function as well in people with PTSD who are trying to talk about what they have been through. Sometimes soldiers cannot verbally say what the trauma is but they can express it through art where they are removed in a way where they are shielded, safe and protected to express it. This reintegrates the brain and the healing process begins.
Arts can reduce stress and the emotional overlays that are associated with it. Through art making, veterans learn to take the experiences, questions and concerns they have internalized and confront them by externalizing them into tangible objects. It’s not therapy… it’s therapeutic! Thoughts, feelings and energies below the surface of the conscious mind can be perceived through art.
To many, art is their medicine: an opportunity to be able to create something that makes it ok to feel good again and help take that burden away. The ability to draw on the power of art to transform and expand our lives, reduce suffering and create new possibilities is beginning to be accepted as real medicine. It is now time to go one step further than medicine by incorporating artistic expression into the ways we provide health and healing.
RoCA’s encourages visitors to think of art as a form of healing for the mind, body and spirit in this fast-paced, technology-driven world we live in. RoCA’s Fall 2019 exhibitions feature artists who have overcome challenges in their own lives, providing inspiration for others.
We invite you to join us for an artist’s Opening Reception on Sunday, October 20th, 2:00-5:00pm. The Body Reconfigured is on view Oct. 13 – Nov. 24, 2019. Free to the general public. For more information contact: Rockland Center for the Arts, 845-358-0877, email@example.com or visit www.rocklandartcenter.org. Rockland Center for the Arts is located at 27 S Greenbush Rd., West Nyack, NY 10994. Regular hours are: Mon-Fri 10-4; Sat and Sun 1-4pm.
RoCA’s programs are made possible, in part, with funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.