Local gallery provides art therapy for veterans

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn - Many times, veterans return home from service to our country with problems that affect them.

Art therapy has become a way that veterans can deal with those problems, and now thanks to a local art gallery, veterans in the Tri-Cities have a place they can express themselves through art.

Back in December, David Shields  and his partner, Jason Sabbides founded the Warrior's Canvas and Veterans Art Center in Johnson City, Tennessee.

Their goal was to showcase and sell pieces of art made by U.S. military veterans.

"I had the idea of wanting to provide art therapy," said Shields. "I'm an artist and a veteran, and I know how much it helps me."  

The veterans are not charged to display their art.  If the artwork sells, Shields and Sabbides ask for 25 percent of the earnings, which is then used to purchase art supplies or help run the galley.

Though the sale of the artwork is a priority, the gallery's true purpose is in the back of the building, in the gallery's art center.

"We have drawing, painting, and pottery, said Shields. "We are also getting ready to open a martial arts class, to help veterans deal with stress that way."

Art therapy has become one of the biggest methods in treating post traumatic stress disorder, which often affects combat veterans. 

Shields identifies with those benefits, because hes a veteran himself, serving 22 years in the United States Air force.

"I can come in, sit down, and engage in some activity that is art related," said Sheilds. "And though my problems don't go away, I learn skills that can help me to face those a little better"

Thanks to the Warriors Canvas and Veterans Art Center, veterans like Shields have something new: a place to create and rehabilitate.

The gallery, which is located at 302 East Main Street,  is funded entirely by Shields, Sabbides, and donations.

If you would like to donate to the gallery, be sure to visit the gallery's Facebook page, or their website www.warriors-canvas.org.

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