Museum of Glass: Healing with Fire Exhibit

The link between arts and healing.

Last month the Museum of Glass opened Healing in Flames, which is a small exhibition featuring work by soldiers participating in the Museum’s Hot Shop Heroes program from September 30, 2015, to March 2016. The exhibition will include work made by soldiers in classes held at the Museum in the spring and summer of 2015. The focus of the exhibition is to celebrate the accomplishments of the soldiers during their eight-week classes and share with Museum visitors the importance of art in therapy and healing.

Photo by Dane Gregory Meyer.

“Hot Shop Heroes is absolutely one of the most important and life-changing programs presented by Museum of Glass,” notes Bonnie Wright, Curator of Education and Community Engagement. “Healing in Flames presents an opportunity for the public to learn about this amazing program and the overwhelming positive effect art has on healing.”

Most of the artists have served a tour of duty in Iraq or Afghanistan at least once, and many have served multiple tours. Healing in Flames gives voice to their personal and shared experiences while being deployed and deals with their feelings about war, military life, and cultural differences. Art pieces include The Final Goodbye (2015) which features a glass gun mounted between a pair of boots with a helmet resting on top of the gun barrel and dog tags hanging from the gun, similar to the way soldiers show respect for their fallen comrades in the field. Also included will be Taste of Blood and Tears (2015) which represents a monument in Iraq that honors fallen soldiers. The sculpture will sit on top of rock salt mixed with iron shavings representing the blood and tears shed by all who have served or lost loved ones in any conflict.

Additionally, there will be pieces included that are more lighthearted and representational of the technical glass working skills acquired during their participation in the program.

The modern link between arts and crafts and the military traces back to 1941, when arts and crafts programs were implemented across military bases to raise morale among soldiers. More recently, art making and art therapy have been presented as therapeutic treatments with unique capacities to promote recovery from Post-Traumatic Stress, Traumatic Brain Injury, and major depression. Nationally, this is becoming a major topic of interest. The third summit of the National Initiative for Arts and Health in the Military was held in February 2015, where critical research needs impacting military service members, veterans, and their families in promoting health, healing, and well-being from pre- deployment, deployment, to reintegration into civilian life were explored. Americans for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health/National Institute of Health all sponsored this national dialogue about arts and the military.

Photo by Duncan Price.

Museum of Glass supports local military families through annual participation in Blue Star Museums, typically welcoming 3,000 – 4,000 visitors each summer. Additionally, we have participated in the annual Veterans’ Glassblowing Day, created by Lisa Aronzon, since its inception in 2012,” states Artistic Director Susan Warner. “Hot Shop Heroes has extended our impact into the larger community in significant and profound ways and we are excited to be a leader in presenting innovative programming for military service men and women. Recognition and funding from the National Endowment for the Arts for this program has been incredible and so important to the Museum.

Museum of Glass                     |               1801 Dock Street, Tacoma            |          (253) 284-4719