The Asheville Area Arts Council (AAAC) is proud to present our Arts & Wellness program for Veterans. This program serves as an alternative method of healing through art classes and workshops that provide avenues of expression that go beyond those traditionally offered. Through innovative collaborations with organizations and specially trained artists, we have brought together the creative arts to this unique population in support of their recovery.

Fall 2018 Program Descriptions


How to Write Your Life Story: A Memoir Intensive for Women Veterans

Instructor: Victoria Fann

AB Tech Enka – Small Business Center, classroom 1017

Saturdays, October 13 – November 17, 2018

2:00 – 4:00 pm

FREE, but pre-registration is required

Each life is unique; everyone has a story to tell. The secret to a good story is not only the ingredients that go into it, but also the way in which it’s told. In this 6-week writing intensive specifically for women veterans with instructor Victoria Fann, the class will discuss how to take the memories and events from their lives and turn them into an interesting story. Come explore the creative process with writing exercises, readings, and group discussions; and learn what steps to take if you’re interested in getting your story published. At the end of the intensive, participants will design a writing plan complete with goals and a timeline, and have the option to create a writing critique group.

Sign up for How to Write Your Life Story


Creative Writing and Poetry for Veterans 

Instructor: Mary Ellen Lough

Hominy Valley Crisis Center

Tuesdays, October 9 – December 18, 2018

6:30 – 8:30 pm

FREE, but pre-registration is required

Be a part of a meaningful writing group for veterans of all ages.  No previous writing experience necessary.

Writing is a powerful way to explore memories, tell your story, and heal from invisible wounds of war. The reading and writing of poems can help create meaning from our experiences and can help cultivate joy, presence, solace, and renewal.

Sign up for Creative Writing and Poetry for Veterans


Pottery for Veterans

Instructor: Gabriel Kline + Odyssey artists

Odyssey ClayWorks

Fridays, October 12 – December 14, 2018

10:00 am -12:30 pm

FREE, but pre-registration is required

Ever wanted to try your hand at the potter’s wheel? Sculpt a likeness in clay? Create a custom tile for your kitchen or bath? Come join the instructors at Odyssey ClayWorks for a fun class just for veterans. We’ll provide an overview of the processes and techniques used to create amazing works of ceramic art in a fun and relaxed atmosphere. Plenty of one on one attention from the instructors and a chance to use the raku kiln, make this an exciting opportunity for anyone interested in working with clay. This class is offered free of charge to veterans.



Drawing Workshop for Veterans

Instructor: Joseph Pearson

Asheville Area Art Council’s Refinery Creator Space

Saturday, October 20, 2018

1:00 – 4:00 pm

FREE, but pre-registration is required

Join teaching artist and veteran, Joseph Pearson, for a drawing workshop where participants will learn the four basic steps of making a drawing. Each participant is asked to bring three objects of personal significance to the session. This class will allow veterans to explore their deeper feelings about items that are meaningful to them by creating their own still life drawing. The artists will bring their own interpretation to the lesson, resulting in a unique work of art of immense personal and artistic value.



Mixed Media for Veteran Families

Instructor: Cleaster Cotton

Asheville Area Art Council’s Refinery Creator Space

Saturday, November 3, 2018

10:00 11:30 am

FREE, but pre-registration is required

Teaching artist Cleaster Cotton will lead this mixed media art workshop for veteran families. You and your family will have fun exploring the ALNUGE Codes (“Alphabets, Numbers, Geometrics.”) Participants will use basic arts materials to create shapes, lines, colors, and texture resulting in colorful designs, portraits, and narratives. Activities will include drawing, coloring, cutting, and collaging. Families will be introduced to cubism and viewing and reading art. Discussion, reflection, and inquiry into the artist’s point of view will foster cultural connections. Join us at the Refinery Creator Space for a morning of creativity! Each sign up will quality one veteran and one child for this workshop.

Sign up for Mixed Media for Veteran Families


Observations in Art and Movement

Instructor: Cara McKinney

@ South Buncombe Library | 260 Overlook Rd, Asheville, NC 28803

Tuesdays, December 4, 11, 18 | 10:00 am – 12:00 pm

FREE, but pre-registration is required

Veterans will practice objectivity and a journey inward through intentional movement, art, stillness, and writing in this class led by artist instructor Cara McKinney. This experience will explore and perhaps challenge our ideas of strength, balance, flexibility, and wholeness. It is a guided deep relaxation, a brief concentration or meditation, a series of movements, and a guided pastel drawing using color and word to express our experience of self. It is as light and silly and/or as austere as we want it to be.

Participants can expect to get a bit dirty using pastels for large scale drawing, (don’t worry, it washes out), and to create a life size “body map” bringing to life observations of the observance of self-reflection. All levels experience welcome.

Sign up for Observations in Art and Movement



We would like to give a special thank you to all of our community partners at Linwood Crump Shiloh Center, Odyssey ClayWorks, ABCCM’s Veterans Restoration Quarters, Charles George VA Medical Center, and ABCCM’s Steadfast House.




2017 – 2018 Impact



The following quotes from participants in the program embody the importance of these offerings:

“It has been therapeutic for me to be in a group that has had experiences akin to my own, with people who recount incidents and feeling that resonate with me. This has freed me to talk about hard things that I’d never spoken of to anyone.”

“This has been the best and most beneficial group I have experienced at the VA hospital.”

“It allows veterans to come to grips with trying life experiences and tribulations in a different positive way.”


Arts & Wellness in the Press



The Arts & Wellness program for Veterans is generously funded by:

of the Community Foundation of  Western North Carolina

of the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina

This project is supported by the N.C. Arts Council, a division of the Department of Natural & Cultural Resources, with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.