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Exhibit at National Veterans Art Museum Applies Military Strategies to Art

 David Sessions's work titled
David Sessions's work titled "Contained War" will be featured in the "Tactical Formations" exhibit at the National Veterans Art Museum.
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National Veterans Art Museum

PORTAGE PARK — The rules that govern military strategy will take on new meaning as part of a new exhibit planned for the National Veterans Art Museum at Six Corners.

Set to open Sept. 4, "Tactical Formations: Collective Practice in the Veteran Art Movement" will showcase the work of three art collectives: the Vietnam Veterans Arts Group, the Dirty Canteen and the museum's Teen Council.

The exhibit is designed to use the "basic military strategy of organizing troops into units to carry out tactical missions during combat and applies it to the practice of forming and operating art collectives in order to achieve socially grounded goals through artistic production," exhibit organizers said.

"The exhibit explores military issues through this fundamental concept, where artistic response is widely varied based on different experiences from the artists," said museum executive director Brendan Foster. "[The museum] feels it is important to bring together these multi-generational collectives to encourage a deeper understanding of the impact of war among different communities.”

The Vietnam Veterans Arts Group formed in 1981, and its inaugural exhibit was composed exclusively of artwork made by combat veterans as a response to their experiences at war.

That work was part of the collection that led to the creation of the National Veterans Art Museum, organizers said.

The Dirty Canteen, which formed in 2013, and includes veterans from the Gulf War, Kosovo and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars who strive to create dialogues about past and current military engagements with their art.

Members of the museum's teen council are high school students who create artwork and develop leadership skills while collaborating with veteran artists.

"These three groups represent NVAM’s foundation, its growing population of post-Gulf War veterans, and its future leaders and artists," organizers said in a statement.

The exhibit will feature Vietnam Veterans Arts Group members Joseph Fornelli, Michael Duffy, William Hackwell, John Shimashita, John Plunkett and Richard Yohnka as well as Dirty Canteen members Giuseppe Pellicano, Jesse Albrecht, Amber Hoy, Erica Slone, Daniel Donovan and Thomas Dang.

Duffy will deliver the keynote speech opening the exhibit at 8 p.m. Sept. 4.

"Throughout history artwork has been a tool to challenge the status quo and instigate conversation," said museum curator Destinee Oitzinger. "It is fascinating to see what can be achieved when talented individuals unite to create something much greater than the sum of its parts through visual art.”

The museum is located at 4041 N. Milwaukee Ave. Admission is free.

For more information, call 312-326-0270 or go to nvam.org.

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