Today, Veterans Day, we browsed Instagram and Facebook to see how artists are commemorating the holiday through their posts. The first post I saw was by Dallas artist Vicki Meek, whose exhibitions Vicki Meek: 3 Decades of Social Commentary, at Houston Museum of African American Culture, and Vulnerable, at Transart Foundation open this weekend (2pm, with a talk at 4:30pm).
“My dad [William Meek sr.] was a Purple Heart awarded veteran who, thanks to the foul treatment he experienced as a black serviceman in a segregated army, took no great pride in his service. He, in fact, made sure his sons knew he’d never ask them to serve a country that didn’t protect their basic rights. He went into the army a young, idealistic man fighting for democracy. He came out a mature realist understanding that American wars are never about democracy and the hypocrisy this country exhibits is ubiquitous.”
In an excerpt from a post by Fort Worth artist Sarah Ayala, she reflects on the suicide rate among veterans and the effects of PTSD on soldiers, and she talks about solutions. She writes:
“I’ve always loved Veterans Day because my many family members who have served get to feel so much gratitude. The military has helped shape my family in many many ways and I’ve always been proud to be the daughter of a Marine who served the end of Vietnam and granddaughter of a man who fought in WWII as a boy, and then Korea and Vietnam as a man.” She continues: “But the bleak truth is that all the well-wishing on one day of the year does not help what some veterans face every day. Around 20 veterans commit suicide daily. An even bleaker truth is that the medicines that can help them are still illegal and claimed to have no medicinal value, because of drug war propaganda decades ago.”
She concludes her post by addressing the efforts of the California group Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, and its push for MDMA-assisted psychotherapy, and how criminalizing certain drug therapies jeopardizes the very freedoms these veterans fought for. “That means if a veteran in Texas is caught with cannabis to help cope with trauma they experienced while ‘protecting your freedom’… They lose theirs.”
Artist Lillian Young, an MFA candidate at Michigan State University who studied art at TCU in Fort Worth, has begun drawing the heads of veterans. “It’s [a] memorial piece dedicated to the 370,000 black soldiers who fought in WWI,'” she writes. “I’ve been doing a lot of work on the Harlem hell fighters recently and the results of red summer specifically for black [veterans] and I wanted to make something to honor all of them because I found out that the facility that [held] most of their records burned down in the seventies or eighties so we don’t really have much information about these dudes.”
Artist Nancy Lamb, who was featured in our October 31 Top Five, simply posted a painting she did of her late husband. “I salute my late husband for Veterans Day. Recipient of a Purple Heart and two Bronze Stars. The kindest and most generous man I’ve ever known. This painting of him hangs in the MHMR of Tarrant County office.”
Former resident artist at Artpace, Margaret Meehan, posted a picture with her father. She posted this remembrance: “Thinking of my Dad this Veteran’s Day. We lost him to cancer caused by exposure to agent orange during his time in Vietnam. Gratitude to all veterans and all that serve from belief in their families, communities and countries. This photo is the last time I saw my Dad.”
For more on these artists, search their names on Glasstire.com.