Mansfield Art Exhibit Features Veterans' Art Therapy Work

The city of Mansfield honored its veterans Tuesday night through art -- on the walls and on the stage.

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The lobby of Mansfield's historic Farr Best Theater has been turned into an art exhibit. The stars of the show also have stripes.

"That's what happens when you serve your country," Howard Hammond said, explaining one of the pieces of art. "I've really been around the world."

Hammond started his Air Force career as a respiratory therapist on medivac helicopters. After an injury, he switched to paralegal work for the military.

Hammond was part of an inaugural art therapy class for veterans.

"Most males think of therapy as a sign of weakness. If you go, it's like a 'kumbaya,' open up, tell us your deep, dark secrets," Hammond said. "This particular therapy requires you to keep your mouth closed."

Hammond's art includes painted masks, chalk drawings and mandalas; drawings within a circle.

"You allow your emotions to control the pencil," Hammond explained. "Over time, it just became this picture that really encompassed what I was feeling inside."

The art exhibit opened Tuesday night, part of a "Salute to Service" program that featured musical performances by veterans.

"I hope they get a little bit more insight from the art on the walls about what it's like to be a veteran," Mansfield Cultural Arts Supervisor Rosalie Gilbert said.

"Art speaks to you without words," Hammond said. "I'm an artist!"

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