MASSILLON, Ohio (AP) -- Willie Lowery Jr. sees every piece of art he creates -- every line, every color, every meaning -- as a vision before he begins to put marker to paper.
When complete, his artwork is full of colorful emotions that flowed from his heart.
Lowery's artwork and other pieces created by area veterans will be on display at the Massillon Museum beginning Nov. 10.
The museum, in partnership with the Akron and Massillon chapters of the Daughters of American Revolution and the Ohio Military Museum, will host the exhibit open to veterans who live or work in Stark and Summit counties.
Art, Lowery said, can help a soldier deal with the emotions that stem from war.
"No one talks about the ugly truth," he said. "Veterans are suffering from side effects of soldier's duties. They can go into lock down. Art will bring them through the tough times."
Lowery, a Vietnam veteran and advocate for fellow veterans, said artwork always has helped him through tough times.
Even as a child when sent to his room, he used drawing to get through the punishment.
Lowery hopes the art show will allow his fellow veterans the opportunity to display their artwork -- from written word to paintings to sculptures and more -- and possibly inspire others.
"When veterans see how others are reaching their dreams, it helps another veteran," he said.
Lowery approached Massillon Museum Director Alexandra Nicholis Coon about a venue for veterans to display artwork.
"He shared that he turned to art as therapy after returning from Vietnam," she said. "(War) shakes your character and he found art a way he could transform potentially negative energy into something positive and was able to move forward."
David Peacock, therapeutic director with Valor Home in Akron, an organization designed to help veterans achieve self-sufficiency including permanent housing, said art therapy is one of the many different therapies used to help veterans.
"It gives the veteran the opportunity to tell his story," he said. "That usually doesn't happen in talking therapies. It's something that is reflective and the images or songs can tell the story without traumatizing themselves again."
The exhibition, Nicholis Coon said, will not only display pieces created by veterans but also honor their service.
"A lot of veterans are practicing artists -- either amateur or professional. They have a unique perspective," she said. "We associate these individuals with their service but now we can see their other interests and celebrate those talents."
Nicholis Coon is not sure what to expect from artists but she believes it was a good idea to give these artists an opportunity to showcase their creative talents and interests.
The exhibition is open to professional and amateur artists, she said, and the artists do not have to have any exhibition experience or formal training.
She said the first attempt at something is always an adventure but Nicholis Coon is hopeful the show could grow into something more.
The exhibition, she said, could travel to VA hospitals and to other venues in and around Stark County.
Lowery said the exhibition will give artists exposure and possibly financial gain. Artwork may be for sale. A 30 percent commission usually retained by the museum will be donated to Massillon's Veterans Park and Duncan Plaza Fund for the preservation and maintenance of the parks, Nicholis Coon said.
A reception to open the show will be held Nov. 10, the day before Veterans Day.
"It's a way to further recognize and honor the artist's military service," she said.
Information from: The Independent, http://www.indeonline.com