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Airman finds comfort in artwork

Senior Airman Lauren Brown (left), 21st Dental Squadron, talks with Nick Smith about one of her paintings that displayed at a local Colorado Springs business. Brown and others find art to be a therapeutic undertaking for those with anything from PTSD to the everyday stress.

Senior Airman Lauren Brown (left), 21st Dental Squadron, talks with Nick Smith about one of her paintings that displayed at a local Colorado Springs business. Brown and others find art to be a therapeutic undertaking for those with anything from PTSD to the everyday stress. (U.S. Air Force photo by Dave Smith)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Spending work hours fulfilling the Air Force mission to fly, fight and win ... in air, space and cyberspace can be taxing. However there are a number of ways to express creativity and individualism that serve as therapy for those tasked with keeping the nation safe.

The American Art Therapy Association says art therapy can benefit people of all ages, including adults who have emotional, cognitive, or physical disabilities. Veterans often return home with acute psychological or medical conditions that impair functioning, disrupt family relationships, and prevent reentry into the workforce. Practicing various forms of art can help ease things from the stress of a long workday to the rigors associated with military life.

The experts at the AATA say art therapy provides ways to express feelings and experiences that are difficult to express verbally, for whatever reason.

Art gives people an outlet, a different way to express their feelings and opinions, said Senior Airman Lauren Brown, 21st Dental Squadron.

Brown has a bachelor's degree in studio arts from Columbia College in South Carolina. She is proficient in a variety of art forms, beginning her artistic pursuit in elementary school drawing Anime pictures. Brown displays her art locally, at a local Colorado Springs business.

Brown, like the folks at the AATA, sees art as a way of communicating with others. A veteran with PTSD can use art to communicate things that cannot be said, or any Airman could communicate their thoughts utilizing any one of a number of media.

"Artists have to be strong enough to not make it personal and understand artwork is a platform of communication. It can be whatever people need it to be, it's probably the most flexible relationship that I've ever had. It can speak many different languages," Brown explained.

What you see in the artwork is not always the only story being told. Abstract art works on subtext, much like poetry does, said Brown. More simply, it works on what you do not see as much as upon what is seen.

Art is not just limited to the standard forms of painting and drawing. Brown uses acrylic paints, Plexiglas, glass, wood and other media types.

"I use anything I think will get the message across to the audience," she said.

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