Contra Costa County has participated in the Veterans in the Arts Program since it was established in 2015 by the California Arts Council. ABOUTFACE: Self-understanding through Self-portraits is a program created by the Arts & Culture Commission in response to the needs of veterans in our community. A collaboration with Returning Veterans of Diablo Valley, Contra Costa TV, and the County Library has enriched many Veterans’ lives through our workshops. Veterans have been enthusiastic about participating and their portraits have been appreciated by the public when exhibited in galleries. The Arts & Culture Commission and the Physical Rehabilitation Service at Veterans Affairs Health Care in Martinez developed a portrait workshop based on the belief that individuals have the capacity to heal themselves. Using best practices and a mentoring approach, ABOUTFACE effectively engages Veterans in the process of painting and encourages artistic expression. This program is rooted in the desire to improve the lives of local Veterans by engaging them in recreational painting. One of the most difficult experiences for Veterans is the transition from military to civilian life. Workshop activities include meditation, peer discussion, and sketching one another; as well as painting a portrait. ABOUTFACE workshops were initially held in a small art studio, but as word spread, we expanded into libraries and Veterans’ buildings throughout the county. Since establishing a relationship with the Concord Veterans Center and Diablo Valley College, we’re able to bring an even deeper quality of art engagement that is both sensitive and responsive to Veterans’ unique experiences.

“Painting allows Veterans to explore places within themselves that they might not speak of, nor perhaps have the words to do so. The beginning of the first day of every workshop starts with meditation where Veterans are asked to suspend judgment of themselves and allow their psyches to engage in painting. The intent is to allow the Veteran’s subconscious ‘to be conscious’ which enables their self-portraits to reflect their experiences.”

Dr. Felisa Gaffney, Returning Veterans of Diablo Valley

Pre-register below for AboutFace 2020 to reserve your place in the workshop.  Please note that we will be offering a more intensive program in 2020, giving Veterans an opportunity to attend more sessions and deepen their learning and artistic skill.