U.S. troops on the mend at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital created art pieces for the Heroes Healing Wall project sponsored and hosted by the Vienna Arts Society. Troops worked on 18 individual puzzle pieces that, together, create large puzzles.
Photo contributed by the Vienna Arts Society
The newest exhibition of the Vienna Arts Society is a trifecta of purpose. The artwork, a collection of puzzle-pieces created by VAS artists and U.S. troops on the mend at Fort Belvoir’s hospital, serves as one of the arts society’s ambitious community outreach programs. The exhibition and sale showcases the creativity and prowess of society members, and provides a fundraising tool. Proceeds from the silent auction benefit the Vienna Arts Society. Called the Heroes Healing Wall Puzzle Project, the July exhibition features multi-piece puzzles assembled from individual 12-inch “universal” puzzle pieces. Each piece is composed of a drawing, painting or collage, or verbal expression. While art pieces created by VAS members are for sale through the fundraising silent auction, pieces created by healing troops at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital are not.
“We wanted the soldiers on the mend to have a voice, to bring attention that they’re out here,” said VAS center director Lu Cousins. “The hospital was so excited we were going to work with them.”
Three volunteer artists from the Vienna Arts Society – project manager Dore’ Skidmore, Shari MacFarlane and Terry Svat - spent three two-hour sessions in June with the troops, arriving at the hospital with donated blank puzzle pieces and a variety of art tools and resources required for composition. Few of the soldiers had art experience yet those participating produced 18 works. Each piece makes a powerful statement by itself as well as part of the larger puzzle, Skidmore said. The puzzle pieces were first painted black background before the troops introduced their compositions to the puzzle pieces.
Approximately 70 individual puzzle pieces were united to create several large puzzles. Each puzzle piece sells individually at the silent auction, which runs until the final bids are accepted by noon on Aug. 1. The public is welcome to come by during art center hours to view the exhibition and place bids. Bids were already placed by July 12 when VAS hosted a reception for the Heroes Healing Wall exhibition.
Cousins conceived the project in spring. She contacted Fort Belvoir Community Hospital and received an enthusiastic response from the directors and doctors there.
“This is a way to show our troops healing they’re not forgotten,” MacFarlane said.
Fundraisers such as the sale of members’ pieces, as well as the Bunco game, support the programs of the Vienna Arts Society and the property it leases on Pleasant Street. Art works run the gamut from traditional oils and watercolors to handpainted handbags by MacFarlane, as well as glass art jewelry.
The Vienna Arts Society hopes the community will visit the exhibition, bid on pieces available for sale and come to its “Bunco” night on Thursday, July 24, beginning at 7 p.m. Participation in Bunco costs $20 per person.
The Vienna Art Center, at 115 Pleasant Street, is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., from July 8 – Aug. 1. There is no charge for entry to exhibition. Call 703-319-3971 or visit www.ViennaArtsSociety.org for details on classes or joining the Vienna Arts Society.