A new exhibition of work by SVA alumni opens a window onto the experience of our military and the College’s own history. Organized by the Veterans Coalition for the Arts, a collective of veterans studying at SVA, “Camaraderie” features paintings, photographs and mixed-media works by students Brandon Michael Hall, U.S. Marine Corps (BFA Photography); Kylene Kasch, U.S. Marine Corps (MFA Art Therapy); Chris Miller, U.S. Air Force (BFA Design); Gerald Sheffield, U.S. Army (BFA Fine Arts); JuanPablo Tafur, U.S. Air Force (BFA Design); and alumnus Hector Rene,U.S. Army (BFA 2014 Photography). Kasch and Miller are the co-curators.
Since 2010, VCA has worked to create an environment where military artists can share their work within a like-minded community. The group supports veterans in their transition to civilian life, encourages dialogue about the causes and effects of war, and explores the dichotomy of being a veteran and artist.
Veterans are central to SVA’s history. In 1947, upon returning from WWII, the late Silas H. Rhodes co-founded the College with support from the U.S.Department of Veterans Affairs. The majority of the original 35 students were veterans.
SVA’s veteran population has grown in recent years as troops have returned home from Iraq and Afghanistan. VCA is one source of community and visibility for these students. Another is the College’s newly-chartered chapter of Student Veterans of America.
SVA’s assistant registrar for academic records, Gemma Prosper-Brown, specializes in counseling veterans. She was recently elected to the board of the National Association of Veteran Program Administrators (NAVPA), enabling her to stay abreast of changes at the Veterans Administration and contribute to initiatives to enhance the new GI Bill, the 2008 law that helps cover veterans’ college expenses. Prosper-Brown’s efforts helped earn SVA the designation of Military Friendly School, placing it among the top 20% of American higher education institutions that embrace military service members, veterans and spouses as students, and work to ensure their success on campus.
“Camaraderie” is on view through January 31, 2015 at The Atrium Gallery at VA NY Harbor, Veterans Administration Medical Center, 423 East 23rd Street between First Avenue and FDR Drive. The gallery is fully accessible by wheelchair and open Monday through Friday, 8:00am – 4:00pm. Admission is free and open to the public.
Images from top down: Flag photo by Chris Miller, photo of watches by JuanPablo Tafur.