Workhouse Arts Center is located right between Fort Belvoir and Marine Corps Base Quanitico, and has a call for art entries for its upcoming exhibition, Arts for All: Diversity, Inclusion and Equity in the Military. The exhibition is in support of the One Military, One Community Initiative to impact change in defense communities and help create a better place for all Service members and their Families to call home, according to Audrey Miller, Workhouse Arts gallery manager.
“The call is for any and all branches of the military and also is open to military families, and caretakers as well,” Miller said. “The main themes are diversity, inclusion and equality, and other experiences artists may have had before, during or after their military service. This also includes military dependents and the experiences they may have had as well.”
Miller said the exhibition is open to all forums of media: traditional, paintings, drawings, 3D art, as well as photography and other forms of print.
“We have a special gallery set aside for our (Workhouse Military in the Arts Initiative), called Warrior Way. We either have a solo exhibition or small group exhibitions, depending on the theme,” said Miller, adding there is a military spouse exhibition planned for the fall.
The exhibit is part of the WMAI, in partnership with the Northern Virginia Regional Commission. WMAI offers classes and workshops for military and families, with open houses on Saturdays and a program called Recovery Forge, for metalworking.
Debra Balestreri, director of visual arts education at Workhouse, said this military community is near to her heart.
“I’m a military brat, and my dad was a Marine Corps Vietnam veteran. It was a labor of love living on base after base – these are my people, so I’d love to work with them,” Balestreri said. “One of the things I wanted to do was include a therapeutic component, helping veterans with PTSD and TBI. A lot of that support went into therapeutic support. It also made sense with our mission, that we would have that component in what we offer.”
Jessica Herman, who helps Soldiers with traumatic brain injury learn to paint, said it creates bonds – internal and external.
“When our paintings are complete, we have built a relationship of trust and a healthy rapport,” Herman said. “The Service member usually expresses a feeling of mastery in learning a new skill of painting and of pride in replicating their place. (The paintings) are meaningful because they represent the therapeutic alliances with these individuals and are beautiful representations of places that are meaningful to them in their healing journeys.”
“Even if you’re not a professional, it’s a wonderful hobby to have,” Miller said. “The title says it: Arts for all. If you’re an artist in our community, I would encourage you to submit your artwork.”
The call for artists is open through April 30. Submit artwork, bio and artist statement at workhousearts.submittable.com/submit. The exhibition will open to the public May 12, Miller said, and added it will be available for online viewing as well.
“It’s something we should have done a long time ago, so I’m very glad it’s happening,” said Miller.