On September thirteenth and fourteenth Master Craftsman Studio hosted a workshop for students from the FSU Veteran’s Center. After seeing the Peace Paper Project brought to FSU last fall, we were honored to work with the Veteran’s Center on this special event. The concept of bringing Art Therapy events to Student Veterans was inspired by Ph.D candidate Meredith McMackin, whos son, USMC Cpl. Julian McMackin Woodall was killed in combat in Iraq. The following is a statement by Meredith explaining her experience and how it has led to these programs being brought to our campus.
“The FSU Student Veteran’s Creative Arts Workshop was inspired by my son, USMC Cpl. Julian McMackin Woodall, who was killed in combat in Iraq in 2007. After experiencing the trauma and grief of losing a loved one in war, I felt driven to do whatever I could to bring more peace to this planet. I saw how my son’s friends in the military also suffered from his death while trying to recover from their own traumatic combat experiences. A couple of years later I began working with student veterans at FSU, which was rewarding and healing for me. I began to realize that supporting veterans as they transition back into civilian life and process through their combat experiences would be a way I could help bring peace and healing to our world. Because of my many years in the field of teaching and making art, I realized that art therapy would be a perfect way to combine my passions and I loved the idea of helping people heal through creative expression.
In May of 2012, I attended the Arts, Military and Healing Initiative in Washington, DC. I was inspired by the Peace Paper Project and the many other creative arts events happening concurrently that week. I approached Billy Francis, the FSU Veteran’s Center Director about the possibility of bringing the Peace Paper Project to FSU and to my delight he agreed to fund it! The workshop took place at FSU in October 2012, with the support of the Art and Art Education departments, and Art professor Denise Bookwalter, who graciously allowed us to use the Printmaking Lab for the papermaking project. The workshop provided student veterans the opportunity to form close friendships while creating works of art that expressed feelings about their military experiences. After the workshop, Billy Francis asked what we would do next year and the Annual Student Veterans Creative Arts Workshop was born!
I began to think of all of the creative talent and resources available right here at FSU, and my first thought was the Master Craftsman Studios. They organized a glass workshop in September 2013 for student veterans. Each participant provided a photograph of their choice, many of which related to their military experiences or the student veteran friends at FSU. The images were fired onto the glass and they made plaques that also included a glass FSU seal. Again they had the opportunity to meet new students and share their stories about transitioning from the military to FSU. In the future, I hope we can tap into all of the creative arts programs at FSU, including visual arts, theatre, dance, music and creative writing. This will provide an opportunity for our student veterans to be enriched by the wealth of creative talent at FSU.”
Working with the Director of the Veteran’s Center, Colonel Francis, as well as student veteran Rachel Mims, we worked with the students to create individual customized plaques. Students worked with MCS staff and interns to create cast glass FSU Seals and fused glass photo transfers. It was a pleasure to work with this group, and we look forward to more opportunities in the future.