Back to Top Skip to main content

Medical museum features mask-making arts therapy exhibit

Masks made by patients at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center are seen on display at the National Museum of Health and Medicine, a division of the Defense Health Agency Research and Development Directorate, in an exhibit titled "Visual Voices of the Invisible Wounds of War." The exhibit is on display through May 31, 2019. (Department of Defense photo by Matthew Breitbart) Masks made by patients at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center are seen on display at the National Museum of Health and Medicine, a division of the Defense Health Agency Research and Development Directorate, in an exhibit titled "Visual Voices of the Invisible Wounds of War." The exhibit is on display through May 31, 2019. (Department of Defense photo by Amanda Quinn)

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury | National Museum of Health and Medicine

The National Museum of Health and Medicine, in Silver Spring, Maryland, in collaboration with the National Intrepid Center of Excellence at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, recently opened “Visual Voices of the Invisible Wounds of War,” an exhibit about art therapy by patients impacted by traumatic brain injury and associated health conditions. Centering on mask-making, a clinical art therapy directive, the exhibit explores the psychosocial environment of patients with TBI and how producing masks that express their emotional state can help them reach a positive understanding of their identity. The exhibit opened on March 8 in conjunction with the Department of Defense’s observance of Brain Injury Awareness Month. The exhibit will close on May 31, 2019.

TBI is a complex brain dysfunction that usually results from a violent jolt to the head. At the NICoE, doctors, researchers, and therapists work in a collaborative clinical setting with families, caregivers, and referring providers to help service members manage TBI symptoms and psychological health. The NICoE is the pilot location of Creative Forces: NEA Military Healing Arts Network, a partnership with the National Endowment of the Arts and the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs. Art therapy sessions at the NICoE focus on improving patients’ quality of life through the creative arts therapies.

This papier-mâché mask decorated with barbed wire, ceramic tiles, bullet casings, and an American flag is titled “Breaking Through the Pain.” It was made by a patient in the Creative Arts Therapy Program at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. It is displayed as part of the National Museum of Health and Medicine’s “Visual Voices of the Invisible Wounds of War” exhibit which runs through May 31. (Disclosure: This image has been cropped to emphasize the subject.) (Department of Defense photo by Matthew Breitbart)
This papier-mâché mask decorated with barbed wire, ceramic tiles, bullet casings, and an American flag is titled “Breaking Through the Pain.” It was made by a patient in the Creative Arts Therapy Program at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. (Department of Defense photo by Matthew Breitbart)

Melissa Walker, healing arts program coordinator at the NICoE, emphasized that art therapy gives service members the opportunity to open up about their experiences and injuries.

“They’ve created something that’s very meaningful…it could be a memorial, it could be a memory…sometimes it’s symbols of who they are in the military, a character, or a nickname,” Walker said. As a therapeutic process, these symbols help the service members come to terms with their trauma and to understand their identity.

The art therapy treatment at the NICoE can also provide a type of therapy to the families, conveying sentiments that are otherwise difficult for the patient to communicate. “We’ve seen art therapy products be talking pieces for them. We’ve seen a lot of families look at the product and say ‘oh, I’ve never completely understood before, but now I can see,’” says Walker.

One of the directives used in art therapy at the NICoE is decorating papier-mâché masks, which are the focal point of the exhibit. Each mask includes a description provided by the patient. The mask titled “Breaking Through the Pain,” part one of a two-part series, is designed with barbed wire, a painted flag and wall, and a bullet. The service member who crafted the mask notes that he wanted to capture the turmoil and conflict in his head, his sense of selfless service, his breakthroughs from his silence and self-guilt, and an actual event where he was shot in the face. It’s a visual vocalization of his trauma and shared identity.

“Hosting the masks provides a temporary home for these deeply personal expressions,” said Adrianne Noe, Ph.D., director of the NMHM. “We ask our visitors to consider them not merely as mute art objects, but as clear images of the healing process, or the challenges of contending with life-altering experiences.”

NMHM’s exhibits provide forums for conversation that connect the mission of military medicine with the public. NMHM was established during the Civil War, as the Army Medical Museum, and is a division of the Defense Health Agency Research and Development Directorate. For more information about upcoming events, call (301) 319-3303 or visit the NMHM website.

You also may be interested in...

Respect the Road

Fact Sheet
8/6/2020

One of the leading causes of military traumatic brain injury is motor vehicle crashes. This car safety fact sheet provides tips to help prevent TBI while driving a motor vehicle and safety measures to take to keep passengers safe. It also includes the signs and symptoms of TBI, and how to get help if you think you sustained a brain injury.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | TBI Educators | Patient and Family Resources | A Head for the Future | Traumatic Brain Injury | TBI Prevention | TBI Resources

Head Check: Know Your Helmet, Football and Baseball

Fact Sheet
8/6/2020

A Head for the Future aims to raise awareness about TBI among service members, veterans and their families. This fact sheet provides tips for choosing the right helmet for the right sport, with information about different safety features in helmets for football and baseball.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | TBI Educators | Patient and Family Resources | A Head for the Future | Traumatic Brain Injury | TBI Prevention | TBI Resources

Cruise with Control

Fact Sheet
8/6/2020

One of the leading causes of military traumatic brain injury is motor vehicle crashes. This fact sheet provides tips on how to stay safe on motorcycles to help prevent TBI while riding. It also includes the signs and symptoms of TBI, and how to get help if you think you sustained a brain injury.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | TBI Educators | Patient and Family Resources | A Head for the Future | Traumatic Brain Injury | TBI Prevention | TBI Resources

Heads Up; Sports Safety

Fact Sheet
8/6/2020

This fact sheet provides sports safety tips to prevent or minimize sports-related traumatic brain injury. It also includes the signs and symptoms of TBI, and how to get help if you think you sustained a brain injury.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | TBI Educators | Patient and Family Resources | A Head for the Future | Traumatic Brain Injury | TBI Prevention | TBI Resources

Head Check: Know Your Helmet, Bicycle and Motorcycle

Fact Sheet
8/6/2020

A Head for the Future aims to raise awareness about TBI among service members, veterans and their families. This fact sheet provides tips for choosing the right helmet for the right ride, with information about different safety features in helmets for bicycling and riding motorcycles.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury | TBI Prevention | TBI Symptoms | TBI Resources | Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | TBI Educators | Patient and Family Resources | A Head for the Future

AHFTF Ride Right Fact Sheet

Fact Sheet
8/6/2020

This bicycle safety fact sheet provides tips to protect your head and help prevent TBI while riding a bike. It also includes the signs and symptoms of TBI, and how to get help if you think you sustained a brain injury.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | TBI Educators | Patient and Family Resources | A Head for the Future | Traumatic Brain Injury | TBI Prevention | TBI Resources

Head Check: Know Your Helmet, Winter Sports

Fact Sheet
8/6/2020

A Head for the Future aims to raise awareness about TBI among service members, veterans and their families. This fact sheet provides tips for choosing the right helmet for the right sport, with information about different safety features in helmets for skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | TBI Educators | Patient and Family Resources | A Head for the Future | Traumatic Brain Injury | TBI Prevention | TBI Resources

Neck Pain Following Concussion/mTBI Fact Sheet

Fact Sheet
7/30/2020

Neck pain can occur together with headaches following a concussion. This fact sheet provides information to help patients manage neck pain. Various techniques are explained, including the use of heat or cold therapy, neck stretches, proper sleep positions and common activities that may contribute to neck strain.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury | Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | TBI Educators | Provider Resources | DoD TBI Worldwide Numbers

Concussion/Mild TBI Signs and Symptoms Fact Sheet

Fact Sheet
7/30/2020

This fact sheet identifies major physical, cognitive and emotional symptoms of concussion and provides coping and recovery tips.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury | TBI Prevention | TBI Screening | TBI Symptoms | TBI Resources | Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | TBI Educators | Patient and Family Resources | Provider Resources | TBICoE Research | A Head for the Future

Healthy Sleep Following Concussion/mTBI Fact Sheet

Fact Sheet
7/30/2020

Getting restful sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your health, and it often takes thoughtful preparation during the day. This fact sheet offers service members and veterans who experience sleep disturbances with healthy sleep tips that can likely improve their sleep.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury | TBI Symptoms | TBI Resources | TBI Prevention | Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | TBI Educators | Patient and Family Resources | Provider Resources | A Head for the Future

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) Frequently Asked Questions

Fact Sheet
7/30/2020

This fact sheet provides answers and information to commonly asked questions about chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | TBI Educators | Provider Resources | Patient and Family Resources | TBICoE Research | Traumatic Brain Injury | TBI Resources

Head Injury and Dizziness Fact Sheet

Fact Sheet
7/30/2020

This fact sheet can be used by health care providers to educate patients with concussion/mild TBI on how to manage dizziness related to their injury.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | TBI Educators | Patient and Family Resources | Provider Resources | Traumatic Brain Injury | TBI Symptoms | TBI Resources

Changes in Behavior, Personality or Mood Following Concussion/mTBI Fact Sheet

Fact Sheet
7/30/2020

This fact sheet can be used by health care providers to educate patients with concussion/mild TBI on how to manage changes in mood related to their injury.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury | Mental Health Care | Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence

Headaches Following Concussion/mTBI Fact Sheet

Fact Sheet
7/30/2020

Although each headache is different, identifying common causes, or triggers, is important for health care providers and patients to determine appropriate treatment. This fact sheet provides non-drug options to help those diagnosed with a mild TBI and associated post-traumatic headache (PTH) manage symptoms.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury | TBI Symptoms | TBI Resources | Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | TBI Educators | Patient and Family Resources | Provider Resources | A Head for the Future

About TBICoE Fact Sheet

Fact Sheet
7/30/2020

This fact sheet provides an overview of TBICoEs education tools, clinical resources, research and it's network.

Recommended Content:

TBI Resources | Traumatic Brain Injury | Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | TBI Educators
<< < 1 2 > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 2

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.