Beauty in Pain: New Art exhibit opens showcasing work of Veterans suffering from PTSD

Beauty in Pain: New Art exhibit opens showcasing work of Veterans suffering from PTSD

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Hanging the walls of the Alabama Center for Architecture are dozens of paintings that showcase the lasting effects of war.

Haunting images of men in battle, juxtaposed with colorful paintings of pets and flowers.

Every painting was done by a veteran suffering from PTSD. Many had never picked up a brush before, but have discovered their talents, and some peace through a program called "Healing Through Art." It's a therapeutic art program provided by the Hoover Art Alliance and the Birmingham Vet Center.

"This is a great program for a veteran exposed to combat," says veteran, and painter, Ken Howard.

He served in Vietnam, and his experiences come through in his powerful images of tanks and helicopters on the battlefield.

"None of us on that tank thought we were going to come home. It felt like the world was closing in, that the sky was closing in. we had no where to go, we just had to try to survive," Howard says calmly. "This gives us a chance to face those memories in a non threatening way."

His childhood friend Doug Armstrong also served in Vietnam at the same time. Now the men spend Sunday mornings painting together.

"I get a lesson every Sunday," chuckles Armstrong as he congratulates Howard on his painting skills. "It passes time, and time heals all wounds."

Armstrong's' works are different. His first painting was his dog, and his works feature flowers and patriotic themes.

"Everyone has a story. This way we get to spend time together, back each other up," says Armstrong.  "We've all been there, we know what each other is going through."

These men finding peace, through the paint.

'PTSD manifests itself in so many ways, including guilt," says Howard "Now we can turn demons into art."

The exhibit held a opening reception on Thursday, August 23rd with beer donated from Cahaba Brewery and food from Taziki's. It will be on display through September 18th

The Alabama Center for Architecture is open Tuesday through Friday from 10am until 3pm.

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