The Odyssey Workshops

Toy soldiers and war toys made by children in Malakal POC out of mud and dirt.  Photo by Brendan Bannon. August 2015 Malakal, South Sudan

CEPA Gallery to Receive $59K Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to Fund Groundbreaking Project that Pairs Internationally Respected Artists with US Combat Veterans

National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Jane Chu has approved more than $2 million in Creativity Connects grants as part of the NEA’s second major funding announcement for fiscal year 2018. Included in this announcement is a grant of $59K to CEPA Gallery for The Odyssey Workshops. The Creativity Connects category advances the role of the arts in the nation’s creative ecosystem by supporting projects featuring partnerships between the arts and non-arts sectors.

“The variety and quality of these projects speaks to the wealth of creativity and diversity in our country,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “Through the work of organizations such as CEPA Gallery in Buffalo, NY, NEA funding invests in local communities, helping people celebrate the arts wherever they are.”

CEPA Gallery Executive Director Lawrence Brose said “CEPA Gallery is proud to be a recipient of the highly competitive Creativity Connects grant through the National Endowment for the Arts. We are excited to partner with the Veterans One-stop Center of WNY on this unique project and to bring the talents of professional photographers and educators to the service of our veterans.”

The struggles of US combat veterans working to reintegrate into society are largely misunderstood and rarely communicated by those immersed in the experience. There is a boot camp to prepare soldiers to go to war, but there is no boot camp to reintegrate them into civilian life.

The Odyssey Workshops, whose title is borrowed from the journey of Odysseus, aim to ease this transition by utilizing photography, peer support, and artist/educator mentoring. Four separate classes will complete a 12-week workshop series, two made up of Post 9/11 veterans, one of Vietnam War veterans, and one of caregivers of veterans. Participants will control their own narratives as they process difficult experiences and create artwork that serves as a reflection of their experiences at war and at home.

Workshops will be led by internationally respected photojournalist Brendan Bannon, supported by veteran and artist Julian Chinana, and participants will be identified by the Veterans One-stop Center. The entire project will be overseen by CEPA Gallery, a globally recognized incubator of artistic creation.

“I have learned that art is a very powerful tool of expression and communication,” said combat veteran and artist Julian Chinana. I personally have found that with photography I can find ways not only to express how I’m feeling but also how I see the world around me.”

Photo by Julian Chinana from the series “Resist Emotion”

Following the workshops, a travelling exhibit will be created to engage the public and increase dialogue around the unique reintegration issues combat veterans and their families experience. The exhibit will open with a celebration at CEPA Gallery in May 2019 and will travel throughout the WNY region to public sites and veteran’s service centers.

For information on how to sponsor this project, please contact Melissa Grainger at melissa@cepagallery.org.

About Veterans On-stop Center of WNY

The Veterans One-stop Center of WNY is a 501(c)(3) non-profit providing supportive services to veterans and their families in a convenient single location where they can access a holistic range of social and health services needed to complete the transition to civilian life. We provide barrier free access in the comfort of a “home base” environment that is always welcoming, affirming and responsive to their needs.

Services are provided by existing, independent service provider partners working together in a coordinated way to provide a seamless program that assists Veterans and their families in dealing with the various challenges they encounter. Any veteran regardless of status is eligible for our services.

We empower veterans to achieve economic success, housing stability and emotional health & well being.

WBFO Exhibit Interview October 1, 2019

WKBW Sewing Circle Interview August 31, 2019

Odyssey Workshops in the Buffalo News, June 24, 2019

Odyssey Press Release

NEA announcement about the Odyssey Workshops

Odyssey Workshops in the Buffalo News May 24, 2019

WBFO Interview November 12, 2018

Brian Higgins announcement about Odyssey Workshops

Visit the Current CEPA Gallery Website