Art therapy has been known for decades as a highly effective means of dealing with emotions like anger, sadness and depression.
Modern research has found that using a creative outlets like drawing, painting — and even photography — can be a great way to let out pent-up feelings and come to grips with our inner demons.
A recently formed photography group at the VA Sierra Nevada Health Care System in Reno is helping veterans discover their inner Ansel Adams as part of a variety of recreation therapy programs at the hospital.
Called “Proud to be Reno” the collage consists of 66 separate photographs submitted by about 2 dozen veterans involved in the VA Photography Group.
Their photographs are colorful and uplifting and reveal what these veterans feel about their community. It features images of many of Reno’s popular events including Hot August Nights, International Air Races, Artown, and many others.
The veterans say photography takes their minds off their troubles and worries and helps them focus on things that interest them.
“The programs that are offered through recreational therapy, are designed to heal physical and psychological wounds that our veterans feel,” said Anthony Matulich, a Marine veteran and one of the members of the VA Photography group.
He added that art helps build confidence, self-worth, relieves stress and addresses many other psychological issues.
“By using the power of the arts as a healing tool, we can improve the quality of life for our veterans. I know because I experience it every day,” Matulich said, fighting back tears as he addressed the group.
Many of the veterans were so encouraged about the collage, many in the group plan to enter the National Creative Arts Festival this year.
Across the country each year, Veterans enrolled at VA health care facilities compete in a local creative arts competition. The competition includes 51 categories in the visual arts division that range from oil painting to leatherwork to crochet. In addition, there are 100 categories in the performing arts pertaining to all aspects of music, dance, drama and creative writing.
The collage currently is on display near the pharmacy inside the hospital.