We are Wounded Not Worthless
After the US Army medically retired me in 2009 because of multiple physical and mental disabilities I suffered during my 11+ year active duty service-most later attributable to unknown chemical, environmental, and burn pit exposures that happened to me during my combat deployments to Kuwait/Iraq (OIF-2003) with the 7th Transportation Group out of Fort Eustis, VA where I was awarded the Bronze Star and to Afghanistan (OEF-2008) with the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) out of Fort Campbell, KY where I was MEDEVACd home after becoming seriously ill-I spent many years in a dark pit of anger, self-pity, depression, and pain. I wallowed in everything I thought I lost (my profession, my self-worth, my health) that I wanted to shut everything and everybody out. Instead of seeing my professional accomplishments, the differences I made in the lives of my Soldiers, and the role model I was to my children-I only saw the darkness.
This is when I first stumbled upon art. Yes, a 40-something mother of five becoming an art student sounds crazy, especially since all I previously knew were the years I spent as a successful Army Transportation and Information Operations Officer. Once I thought that identity was taken from me, I just wanted to shut down and began seeing myself as worthless. My "invisible wounds" cut me to the core. I had no idea where I fit in or how I could express myself with my whole identity turned upside down. So art, with its distinctive allure of creating something from nothing, literally bubbled up during a Groupon wine and painting class in 2011. True, we didn’t create masterpieces that night; however, I felt lighter somehow—as if a huge weight I didn’t even know I was carrying, shifted just a little bit. The next day I began to explore how I could use my GI Bill to give this ‘art thing’ a try. Here I am, over a decade later, still working on degrees in Studio Art and Art History (as my chronic health issues permit) and having come to grips with the fact that I may never be healthy enough to achieve those degrees. So I still have days where I feel like I am stuck in the murky pit of my past, falling back down into that gloom and muck. But now, I have a medium with which I strive to create a new self-narrative using my wounds as a positive source of inspiration, instead of something that I allow to drag me back down into that black pit of despair. I am still sick. I always will be. I still struggle with depression, anxiety, PTSD and pain. But I have created a new self narrative as a professional artist that allows me to rise above my physical symptoms and at time, even create through the pain.
A major component of my process lies in attempting to translate my confusion and sorrow into some sort of tangible media using whatever is at hand—be it paint, plaster, clay, steel, wood, metal, embroidery, vintage paper products or a mixture of all these and more. By physically displaying my story this way, it gives me separation to analyze my hurt instead of continuing to internalize it. I equally enjoy applying thick applications of acrylic paint mixed with heavy plaster mediums on very large canvases as I do making small intricate collages out of vintage scraps of paper and cloth-finding the ‘messy’ part of creating extremely satisfying on a very basic level. The resulting effects range from paintings with a very sculptural aesthetic to intimate collages with painterly three dimensional creations—finding peace between the crudeness and beauty of it all reflective of how I am feeling on the inside on any given day-and giving voice to these feelings matter because they are important.
And I‘m ready to have this conversation with the world!
I’m ready for my art to spark conversations that are uncomfortable about women in the military and our roles and our experiences without all the damn eye rolls. Can we please sit down and have an honest conversation without being marginalized again by being labeled just another group of angry females? Our experiences matter and they are all worth sharing. From the wonderful to the awful. We matter, our art matters and I know I am not alone. There are other female military members currently serving, female veterans and female wounded warriors using art in similar ways to me and it is time we shine a light on us all. We are Artists. We are not just women using art as therapy. Yes, there is a place for art therapy in the healing process, but what I want to emphatically state is that many of us are on a journey that has incorporated the therapeutic properties into our artistic practices and should proudly be able to state to ourselves and the world that we are indeed professional artists and should be recognized as such. Our work should make people take notice of what we have to say, because what we have to say matters, our voice and our art, matters and it is not worthless. We are not worthless. We may have been treated as such, but that time is at an end and we will not put up with it any longer. We may be wounded in body, but we no longer will let ourselves or anyone else consider us or our art worthless.
Thus, I founded WoundedNotWorthless.com LLC as an online art gallery collective to do just that. It is my goal to support, promote and empower other women military, veteran and wounded warrior artists, like myself, and give a voice to our often-voiceless minority. Together we will be heard because what we say is worth hearing.
And so I will say it again: What we say and how we say it matters.
With the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, I like the rest of the world with underlying medical issues, have been in quarantine, thus currently putting art school on hold for the foreseeable future. This time has allowed me to concentrate on what I can do right now, instead of what I can't. What I CAN do right now is work mostly in collage, so I’ve packed up my metal, ceramic, wood, and large painting studios for now and found the intimate work of collage, which only requires a small corner office studio, incredibly satisfying. So this is what I will be concentrating my practice on right now.
I have already been selected for several upcoming exhibitions and shows in 2022 and 2023 and I’m truly excited to see what work springs forth out of this isolation time as well as what additional boundaries I can push because people have very specific ideas about collage and I want to question it all.
Showings & Exhibitions
Showings & Exhibitions
2022 Partnership with Boutique on Pomfret
Collaborating Artist in Residence (May-December 2022)
• Selected by store owner, Leslie Rhoades, to be a collaborating artist in residence; 101 N. Hanover Street, Carlisle, PA
• Leslie selected apparel, pins, and limited edition prints created especially for her store of some of my collages (selected by her) which were sold in store (signed, numbered) from May to December 2022
*remaining prints are still available for purchase from this limited edition "boutique on pomfret" run-if interested, contact us at [email protected]
Holiday Collage Class
- Hosted by nDesign Art Haus, LLC at 15 N Hanover Street, Carlisle, Pa
- 3 December 2022
- Intro to collage taught by myself, concentrating on holiday themes and the basics of collage and design
Uniting US and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority’s 2022 Women’s History Month Exhibition
- HONORING MILITARY WOMENS CONTRIBUTIONS Celebrating Service Through the Arts
- Exhibition in the Dulles International Airport AeroTrain Station C Concourse
- Exhibition will remain March 2022-23
- Hannah is debuting her very first piece of artwork entitled “One Day”
- this exhibit honors Women in Service and the three generations (1944 - WW2 - to Vietnam to 2009) within my own family with four pieces of my art (all self portraits)
"Veterans' Art and Memory" Exhibition
- October 13th through November 29th at the Kavanaugh Gallery in St. CHARLES, IL
- Fine Line Creative Arts Center granted half the space to be curated by myself for WoundedNotWorthless,com LLC artists!
- This is the first brick and mortar gallery to feature WNW artists from around the nation, in one place, all at the same time
Harvest of the Arts Festival, Carlisle, PA
- We were able to get our message out 24 August 2022 and pass out every single piece of literature we had about WoundedNotWorthless.com LLC
sold prints of my artwork and put the proceeds towards the cost of shipping for WNW artists who need assistance on shipping their pieces out to our upcoming show opening October 13th at the Fine Line Creative Arts Center in St Charles, Illinois
Art and Design Department at George Mason University (GMU)
- collaboration sharing the healing power of art with veteran artists, GMU, and the community
- finished two murals in one weekend under the skilled guidance of senior BFA student and UnitingUs veteran artist Steven Luu
- art will be displayed at Reagan National Airport (DCA)
- Celebrating Our Nation: Connecting Calm and Hope
Art of Collage - Class
- Hosted by Boutique on Pomfret
- Beginning collage class, 14 July 2022
- Team taught by Hannah and myself focusing on inspiration and encouragement
It Is What It Is - Isolation, Introspection, and Divorce
Invited to the Veterans Day Artwork Tribute at Honfleur Gallery
• Veterans Day Program with art exhibition and events hosted by the Honfleur Gallery In DC—November 11, 2022 through December 2022
-Sold 30'x40'canvas print of "It Is What It Is" on opening night
Library of Congress “From Conflict to Creativity: Veteran Art Showcase” in Washington, DC
- In partnership with UnitingUs.org and the Library of Congress
- “From Conflict to Creativity: Veteran Art Showcase” Festival from June 28-30, 2022, sponsored by the LOC Veterans History Project and Uniting Us
- I was 1 of 35 demonstrating artists and displayed the originals and several prints of my following works: It Is What It Is, Endowed By Her Creator, Pain, Broken, and The Tradition Begins.
MLK Jr Library hosted the Uniting US Celebrating our Nation Together public mural art project
- Designed and directed by Sushobha Jenner, Uniting US artists and community members worked diligently to complete this 8’x18’ mural 25-27 June 2022 in conjunction with the LOC veteran art showcase
- I volunteered with four generations of female service members as artists on this project:: myself, my Army Nurse Mother who served during the Vietnam Era, my grandmother who served in the cadet nurse corps during the WW2 era, and my daughter, who is a military child--who was born at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, Ca and has lived in 7 states and been to 13 schools in her short 16 years (I call that service!)
Open Space NFT's of Endowed by Her Creator
- celebrating service and the healing and uniting powers of the arts!
- Visit the spectrum at:
A Limited Edition Print of Her Voices
Uniting Us: VetART (Art Rehab Therapy)
• This Uniting US sponsored exhibition and Hill Center partnership include meaningful artwork from 36 military, veterans, and family member artists
• On display and for sale at the Hill Center Gallery at the Old Naval Hospital, Washington DC into 2022 https://www.hillcenterdc.org/product/her-voices/
A National Treasure & a Limited Edition Print of Endowed By Her Creator
Walter Reed National Military Medical Center's 18th Annual Arts in Health Art Exhibit
• On exhibit and available for purchase into Spring 2022
• Courtesy of www.UnitingUS.org
Pain in my broken, body won’t ever match the, pain from my regret & Broken I stand now, like the poppy honored here, another war done?
Veterans Day 'Spectrum of the Arts' Artwork Tribute at Honfleur Gallery
• 'Spectrum of the Arts' a Veterans Day Program with art exhibition and events hosted by the Honfleur Gallery In DC—November 11, 2021
• Both my above collages, were commissioned by Uniting Us, and are based on WWI poems in honor of and partnership with the Society of the Honor Guard Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
• Uniting US introduces their Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Centennial Art tribute project, of which my pieces are a part
Shows & Exhibitions
Shows & Exhibitions
Ongoing 2023 Partnership with nDesign Art Haus, LLC
Collaborating Artist in Residence (December 2022 - May 2023)
• Selected by store owner, Natalie Dohman, to be a collaborating artist in residence; 15 N. Hanover Street, Carlisle, PA
• Natalie has chosen to display my original art in her gallery along with the art of my WoundedNotWorthless.com LLC artists, as well as our apparel, jewelry, and limited edition prints in her gallery (all specifically selected by her) which will be sold in her gallery and on a rotating basis from December 2022 through November of 2023.
-I also volunteer as a demonstrating artist, promoting the WNW artists that are on display, during her open studio hours
Finding Your Inner Power with Collage Class
nDesign Art Haus, LLC
- January 14, 2023, hosted by nDesign
- New year, new you. We will meditate and then create a self portrait-collage style
- I lead the class on an inner journey in order to coordinate a portrait that portrays a true sense of self bathed in love and light by first cutting then pasting together everything you need to recreate the image you need to see in yourself
"Memories Reside in the White Cliffs of Dover"
- Mixed Media Collage
- Completed January 2023
- Displayed at the 16 March 2023 British Embassy Event in collaboration with Uniting US
- "Peace of War: Intertwined Through Art" Allied Arts Exhibition
- The Honourable Dame Karen Pierce, British Ambassador to the United States and UNITINGUS.ORG, an American nonprofit that uses Integrative Arts to promote healing, wellness, and community invite you to the Allied Arts Exhibition.
- Artists from the United Kingdom and the United States join together to honor a British/American commitment for peace and to recognize the power of Art to heal both mind and body while building stronger allegiances at the individual, community, and national levels.
- United we stand! The essence of the allied relations between the United Kingdom and the United States spans the spectrum between war and peace running deeply through political affairs, cooperation in commerce, technology, and in the fundamentals of arts and sciences
- Join UNITINGUS.ORG and UK artists in an exhibition celebrating the healing and uniting aspects of therapeutic arts in the exquisite North Star Exhibition Hall. Artworks present the healing and uniting arts and show the personal alignment and commitment to one another. Watch for the release of the Allied Arts online exhibit!
Uniting the World Through Art
Uniting the World Through Art
- Unveiled on 16 March 2023, I participated with my daughter (Hannah Liberty Polosky) and 78 other community members as the first part an integrative arts activity with the World Wide Art Project and Uniting US
- Jolanda Aucott's gender neutral portrait design is the basis for 80 participants to present the artist representation of "Love and Peace" and "Fear and War" on two small 8"x8" canvases (independent of each other)
- Then the participant's canvases were reassembled by the artist to create two 69"x84" portraits representing the collective group's expression according to her vision
- The resulting Uniting the World Through Art portraits were then exhibited in Uniting US public gallery locations for artists, friends, and communities to enjoy
- The British Embassy Uniting the World Through Art portraits are currently being relocated for a second public exhibit
Are YOU a Female Military / Veteran / Wounded Warrior Artist?
Are YOU a Female Military / Veteran / Wounded Warrior Artist?
Contact me NOW! I'd love to get you signed up on the site and have your art displayed for all the world to see! I can personally help you draft your first or fortieth artist statement and help you submit whatever type of art you do into whatever type of exhibition you are hoping to get into - or if you just want me to link your art to your own, already established, online store and promote your brand and your wares, I can do that too! We do it all here - BLUF: I am here to support, promote and empower you to achieve your artistic and personal goals. Period. Whatever they may be and however they may change over time.
Just send me a quick email message here and I will respond to you as quickly as possible; this is a one woman show, but I will get back to you. You are important, your art is important and what you have to say is important and needs to be heard. I want to help you create and achieve and we can do it together. This is also the time to let me know what type of assistance you may need as well. I will share whatever information and connections I have and sit down with you and see what exhibitions I have coming up that we can collaborate on and what would fit in with your schedule and pass on knowledge of other exhibitions happening with other veteran organizations across the nation that you may be interested in as well! Networking is key and we all can help each other a lot more than we know more times than not. Whether you are just starting out or a fully established artist, there is a place for you here at Wounded Not Worthless.
Thank you for taking the time to look through this online art gallery - hopefully you can visualize your space here too; and remember, while this is not a non-profit, it is a general public benefit business created for female veteran artists like you and me, so I will never charge or take any commission from you to help you on this site or with your projects. I also strive to help you monetarily, when I can, with your costs related to exhibitions and projects associated with our WoundedNotWorthless.com, LLC collaborations. The only profits I make off this site are from the sale of my own art, and that is what I use to directly fund supporting, empowering, and promoting artists like us!
The most important takeaway here is that it would be my honor to become a value-added member to your own network of female artist friends and a fellow collaborator in the trade with the goal to support and succeed alongside each other - because when you succeed, we all succeed:)