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ODU to Host Traveling Art Exhibit Showcasing Lives of Military Kids

Photo of "Unclassified" art exhibitA group of children view art work featured in "Unclassified: The Military Kid Art Show."

The Baron and Ellin Gordon Art Galleries at Old Dominion University will host a free public reception on June 27, 2014, to unveil "UNCLASSIFIED: THE MILITARY KID ART SHOW," the first traveling museum exhibit of its kind, showcasing the life of a military child through art.

This exploration of the military child subculture through 50 years of blue ribbon art works shows visitors the strength, compassion, creativity and challenges faced by children of military parents through multiple generations. With three thematic galleries containing works in mixed media, painting, video and photography, as well as historical artifacts, UNCLASSIFIED is sure to inspire those familiar with the military lifestyle and engender a deeper understanding between military and civilian communities.

The exhibit's subject matter includes mobility, war and deployment as well as living overseas, race relations and transitioning out of the military as an adult. It also introduces the topic of primary and secondary Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in military children and how one Marine family used art to help heal the wounds of the Vietnam War.

The show was one of six projects awarded the prestigious Newman's Own Award in 2012 for helping improve the lives of military families, and was recognized by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey.

"We wanted to put together a creative project made by brats about brats," said Lora Beldon, co-curator and one of the exhibiting artists of UNCLASSIFIED. "'Brat,' by the way, is not a pejorative term; it's based on the historical acronym, 'British Regiment Attached Traveler.' UNCLASSIFIED explores what it means to be a military brat and the profound impact it has on one's adult life."

The curators wanted to create a show that traveled the world much like military brats.

"I'm especially excited about our new film footage on PTSD and family reintegration issues," said co-curator and filmmaker Donna Musil, who is incorporating the footage into a new documentary, "Our Own Private Battlefield." "War doesn't just affect soldiers; it impacts the entire family. 'Battlefield' explores the powerful reintegration of retired Marine officer Tom Beldon and his daughter, Lora, some 20 years after the Vietnam War, both of whom used art to express their complicated emotions on the subject. Their story shows that it's never too late to love, and that successful reintegration can be achieved in the most unusual of ways."

Historical artwork and artifacts for the show were provided courtesy of the American Overseas Schools Historical Society, Operation Footlocker and the Museum of the American Military Family. "Unclassified: The Military Kid Art Show" is part of the ODU Fine & Performing Arts Series and is co-sponsored by the ODU Darden College of Education's Center for Educational Partnerships.

Additional funding and support has been provided by the Sprint Foundation, Operation Military Kid, the Fisher House Foundation and Military Times. Co-curator Lora Beldon is also director of the Military Kid Art Project. Donna Musil is executive director of the nonprofit organization "Brats Without Borders" and writer-director of the award-winning documentary about growing up military, "BRATS: Our Journey Home," which was narrated by musician Kris Kristofferson and features the late Army General Norman Schwarzkopf, author Mary Edwards Wertsch, and brats of all ages and branches of service. For more information, see militarykidart.org.

"UNCLASSIFIED: THE MILITARY KID ART SHOW" will be on display at the Baron and Ellin Gordon Art Galleries/Old Dominion University, 4509 Monarch Way, in Norfolk, Virginia from June 28 through August 10, 2014 (Tuesday-Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday 1 to 5 p.m., admission free). The opening night exhibition reception, which is open to the public, will be on Friday, June 27, 2014, from 7 to 9 p.m. Artists Lora and Tom Beldon, and Filmmaker Donna Musil, will speak at 7:30 p.m. (The galleries are located in the University Village with parking available in the 45th Street Garage.)