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article imageCanadian veterans healing through art

By Nancy Houser     Nov 12, 2011 in Entertainment
Halifax - The bloody battle of Afghanistan is filling Canada with returning soldiers; shattered veterans with physiological and psychological damage, filling them with an emotional numbness. However, creative art has been proven to release this suffering.
According to the Vancouver Sun (Nov. 11, 2011), acclaimed Nova Scotia artist, Catherine Jones, is in the beginning steps of preparing an art project and art classes to help military soldiers capture the creative impulse as a spur for personal healing and therapy.
As a professional artist, her favorite media and subject matter are paint-on-linen portraits of soldiers from the two world wars. When he was alive, her late father was her principal subject for her paintings---a man who had been a World War II veteran and a prisoner of war for years in North Africa.
Throughout the years, Catherine Jones' father taught her about humanity toward all soldiers, on both sides of the war, which included not only the Canadians but also the Germans and British veterans. Therefore, Jones displays each of her paintings with a spotlight on the soldier's humanity, not the causes or the politics of the war. She felt by painting the soldiers as unidentified veterans without military insignia, she could accomplish this by focusing on human forgiveness.
Jones says she set out to draw attention to what she calls the "rarest, most wonderful human attribute: forgiveness." (High Beam)
One of her art shows, called "End of the Day," shows paintings of her father and 20 other soldiers, 60 years after the war was over. The Vancouver Sun said she called her subjects "The Boys," in the series she drew portraits of soldiers from various countries, which included the wrinkled faces of her father's former enemies.
The artist said that her father had always respected his enemies, whether it was a German U-boat commander who had led an attack on the Allied ships, only to return and pull him and the other survivors from the North Atlantic---defying orders. Or whether it was his captors in a PoW camp in Morocco. Her portrait series was meant to show veterans that soldiers from both sides of WWII “united in forgiveness and reconciliation.”
"My father would say, 'They were good soldiers, I don't know why we were fighting them, they were so similar to us,' and things like that," says Jones. (Vancouver Sun)
Catherine Jones had an accident that had caused her serious injuries, preventing her from completing large -scale paintings. According to the Vancouver Sun, she chose to go to Afghanistan to make a documentary film, trading her brush in for a camera. "I did not like the say the media was portraying the war," she says, 'fixating on the ramp ceremonies' that followed each death in the field."
Jones' 2009 documentary film, "15:13---The Soldiers' Story," showed the real-life world of military life in Afghanistan, with Jones billing it, "the closest you will ever get to the war zone without actually being there." But while she was there, a roadside bomb had killed some of the people she had become friends with; four Canadian soldiers — Sgt. George Miok, Sgt. Kirk Taylor, Cpl. Zachery McCormack and Pte. Garrett Chidley — and Calgary Herald reporter Michelle Lang.
One of the things she saw was a soldier sending pictures of himself back home, using photo software to match how he felt and what was going on in his life. This gave her the idea for her next art project for, a place for Canadian veterans of post-traumatic stress disorder or any post-war affliction, while using creative activity to ease their minds. "There is not one emotion known to mankind," she says, "that a paintbrush can't convey."
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