Mr. Whitehead, a Desert Storm combat veteran who was in the U.S. Army for four years, was recognized for a self-portrait titled “The Art of Healing.” He said most of his artwork is about his time in Iraq.
“Art has really given me an outlet to express how I feel. Art has helped me put my feelings not on paper but on canvas and prints,” he said.
The yearlong national competition culminates in the 2015 National Veterans Creative Arts Festival in North Carolina this fall. The festival categories are art, creative writing, dance, drama and music. VA medical facilities include creative arts as part of their recreation therapy programs.
Mr. Whitehead, who grew up in Maryland, has been at OHS for eight years. He teaches photography and jewelry-making. He designs and builds the sets for the OHS Drama productions and mentors the Interact and History clubs. Mr. Whitehead taught art to fourth- and fifth-graders for 10 years before starting at OHS. In the spring, he and fellow art teacher Harry Quiroga organized the 3rd Annual Living History Veterans Project at the high school.
Students meet with veterans to learn about their experiences. The students have two weeks to create projects that tell the veterans’ stories through paintings, videos, photographs and graphic designs. Each summer, Mr. Whitehead visits veterans at VA hospitals in Connecticut or New York and creates a personal piece of artwork for each one.
To view all the winning artwork in the National Veterans Creative Arts Competition, visit https://www.flickr.com/photos/veteransaffairs/sets/72157656322477510.
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