CNY Veterans Look to National Competition After Taking Local Awards in Art Contest

Mar 5, 2018

Veteran Laurelle Kaley shows off her award winning piece of artwork "Autumn Leaves" done in chalk.
Credit John Smith / WAER News

Talented Veterans from across Central New York received awards today in the Creative Arts local competition, and some could be advancing to the national level of the contest.  While the artists certainly take pride in their work, the creative process can be very therapeutic and healing.  Laurelle Kaley spent 20 years in the military before she retired in 2005.  She said the military gave her direction and support, and art filled that void when she left.

“It takes me out of a usually a stressful situation or a dark place and I can relax and not have all kinds of different worries going on,” said Kaley.

Kaley first came to the Syracuse VA because she was struggling, and was diagnosed with depression.  She said the colors she uses improve her mood, and encourage her to keep going. 

“There are some days that I just don’t want to do anything. Motivation is not there. Now that I’ve gotten into these things, I can inspire myself further and make myself feel happy,” said Kaley.

Last year Kaley received both local and national honors.

The audience watched as local veterans received awards for their artwork.
Credit John Smith / WAER News

Lead Recreation Therapist Suzanne Hawes said there are 55 categories of entries reflecting the talents of veterans across central and northern New York.  She said entries in this 22nd annual competition are eye-catching as usual.

“So we have a lot of artists that have entered in the fine arts and applied arts,” said Hawes. We have one gentleman I just spoke with, he has never entered his artwork before. It is absolutely amazing. He said he does it for ‘fun’ and his acrylic pieces are just phenomenal. We have some veteran artists that have been coming back for 15-20 years. Every year with something unique.”

Hawes said they had national winners last year in art, creative writing, and music after going up against 150 other VA’s.  She said they expect to hear about this year’s results sometime in July.  Some of the works of art will be displayed at the Everson Museum. 

Award winning pieces are sent to the Everson Museum to be displayed.
Credit John Smith / WAER News