AP NEWS

Art competition brings in diverse collection of artists

March 11, 2019

MUSKOGEE, Okla. (AP) — Lucille Brisson-Dickinson studies her work with a critical eye.

The 70-year-old Wagoner resident dabs a paintbrush into color and then applies it to the canvas. A fence takes shape to go along with hills, mountains and trees already on the painting. “This fence didn’t look good sitting by itself,” she said. “I wanted to extend it.”

Brisson-Dickinson was demonstrating her talent at the annual Veterans Affairs Art Competition, held at the Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center. She also entered the competition.

“I’m having a lot of fun,” the 28-year veteran of the US Army Nursing Corps said to the Muskogee Phoenix. “If I wasn’t painting, I’d be working on crochet or knitting.”

The art competition began in 2008 and has been under the direction of Deborah Moreno, the medical center’s recreation therapist and creative art coordinator, since then. Entrants can submit their work in categories that include art, creative writing, dance, drama and music.

Their work is based on the criteria of creativity/originality, skill and total presentation. Anonymous judges do the judging, and the entrant who receives the most points qualifies for the national competition in Battle Creek, Michigan, in October.

“I’m very passionate about this,” Moreno said. “This offers veterans ways of dealing with issues such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and pain. We offer the materials to get them started and see if there might be an interest.”

The art work isn’t limited to painting. Crochet work was recently on display at the entry of the VA Center, but one veteran — Jack Stafford — proudly displayed his work in making red cedar boxes. The eight-year veteran of the Air Force and member of the Creek Nation Honor Guard made a box that held material and feathers used for a gourd dance.

“I use Eastern Red Cedar (from Tennessee) because moths and mites don’t like it. It’s a natural insecticide,” the Muskogee resident said. “There are no nails and screws used except for the hinges or the clasps.

He also takes special care with each box he makes and uses velvet for the bottom of the box. He oils the outside but not the inside.

“It’s really kind of an honor to make them as they’re used by Native Americans. I just love making them,” Stafford said.

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Information from: Muskogee Phoenix, http://www.muskogeephoenix.com