LIFE & STYLE

Art Students Show Veterans’ Pain In Portraits. ‘I’m Not Healed. I Am Healing.’

By Skyler Rossi
The Kansas City Star

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) “Veteran Reflection” tells the stories of 14 veterans through portraits done by Art Institute students and audio clips of the veterans in their own words. 

The Kansas City Star

Kirsten Vallinmaki, a military intelligence officer of almost 21 years, struggled to feel normal after she was stationed overseas and stateside.

Like many other veterans, she felt isolated when she returned home, even when she was surrounded by people who loved her, including her two sons.

“Social isolation and loneliness is a very real thing and it’s something that’s often misunderstood and ignored,” said Vallinmaki, who uses her previous last name, Hesterberg, in the military.

It’s hard to express and process emotions, she said, and it’s even harder to understand if you haven’t been in the military. The only way for other people to begin to understand is through listening to the stories veterans have to tell, she said.

That’s the premise of “Veteran Reflection,” a Kansas City Art Institute exhibit that aims to give a voice to the loneliness and isolation many veterans feel.

The exhibit tells the stories of 14 veterans, including Vallinmaki’s, through portraits done by Art Institute students and audio clips of the veterans in their own words. The audio is accessed by scanning a QR code with a smartphone.

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