Story by Matt Quijas; photos by Andi Laurvick
GROSSMONT COLLEGE — Veterans who used their hands to cradle the rifles that provided security for Iraqi or Afghan villages or to scrub the decks of a U.S. Navy ship now have something far more creative to do with them: working a potter’s wheel and fashioning clay as part of the on-campus Veterans Art Project.
From my perspective, as a veteran Marine who saw combat in Afghanistan, a very beneficial aspect of this project is the ability to focus all your energy onto centering a piece of clay on the wheel in an attempt to make a work of art. It may take all day to get the feel for the wheel, but when you finally do, it’s worth every second.
I am able to sit at a wheel and clear every thought from my head and focus whatever emotions I am feeling into the clay. My experience was in this sense therapeutic and relaxing.
For others, the Veterans Art Project (VAP) offers other attractions. Counselor Renee Tuller says the program lets the vets know there are people who care about their future and have a “passion to help.”
Tuller, ceramic artist Steve Dilley, and ceramics technician Al Ventura designed the program in which Diller helps novices to use a wheel and bring the clay into a natural form.
Grossmont houses the largest veteran body in the local area. Says Tuller: “We wanted to create a place where the faculty and staff are available and where the veterans feel safe.”
Another service available for veterans are financial aid workshop, familiarizing them with campus financial resources.
Due to the budget crisis, said Tuller “We are down so many counselors here.” She expressed concern that “if there is not a service available for these students to get help, they won’t get the help they need.”
Various fundraising efforts are under consideration, she said.
Quijas is a student in Media Comm 132A. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org