Laura Taylor is one of 10 artists who will share messages of hope, healing, and inclusion at VA medical centers across the country during March to mark Women’s History Month. All women Veterans, these artists have powerful stories to share and tremendous talent. They were chosen to headline the event from a pool of 100 artists and 400 art submissions by VA’s Center for Women Veterans and its partner, the Veteran Artist Program.
A professional graphic designer turned portrait artist, Taylor described her work as patriotic―“It has a tendency to show my love for our country, our flag, the fallen and for those who serve or have served.” Inspired a few years ago to explore patriotic themes by her father, Taylor expresses a desire to use her art as a way of giving back to the Veteran community.
“My Dad was a Vietnam Veteran. I grew up knowing and seeing what PTSD looked like firsthand in our house,” said Taylor. “He suffered from it severely. I really wanted to show my Dad the other side of how we can support Veterans. It became my personal journey with him.”
As a dedicated volunteer with several Veteran-related organizations, she has served as an art instructor, event planner, fundraiser, and all-around Veteran advocate. However, the work that makes her most proud is her portrait work that pays homage to Patriot Guard Riders and Old Glory Honor Flight participants.
Pictured above, Taylor presents Marine Corps Veteran and Patriot Honor Guard member Dennis Green with her portrait of him at a special celebration.
One of Taylor’s pieces, named “Clyde”, depicts a Pearl Harbor survivor of the same name. It is one in a series of images developed by Taylor as a fundraiser for the Old Glory Honor Flight―a Wisconsin-based non-profit organization that offers local World War II and Korean War Veterans an all-expenses-paid tour of the various Veteran memorials in Washington, D.C.
“I just knew instantly that I had to draw him. I was completely inspired by his look and the character in his face,” said Taylor. “It’s been a complete honor to draw this picture for his family and to have it shared nationally through these March exhibits.”
Taylor is a staunch believer in the power of art to heal, connect people of various backgrounds, and to give expression to emotions or experiences that are difficult to voice. As a Navy Veteran, she hopes the exhibits will increase awareness and appreciation for women Veterans. From 1994–1997, she served stateside as an F-14 Jet Mechanic (AD) as well as an F-14 and F-18 Plane Captain.
You may see Taylor’s work and that of the other featured artists during March at the following locations: Beckley VA Medical Center, Beckley, West Virginia; W. G. (Bill) Hefner VA Medical Center, Salisbury, North Carolina; Atlanta VA Medical Center, Atlanta, Georgia; James H. Quillen VA Medical Center, Mountain Home, Tennessee; VA Eastern Kansas Health Care System, in Topeka and Leavenworth, Kansas; Jesse Brown VA Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois; Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System, New Orleans, Louisiana; Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center, Houston, Texas; Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center, Spokane, Washington; and VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System, Las Vegas, Nevada.
The exhibits are staged in high traffic areas of the medical centers to allow convenient access during business hours. Several medical centers will also host special events such as Meet the Artist gatherings, Women’s History themed-talks, and wellness or well-being seminars. Please check with each medical center for a complete list of Women’s History Month activities.
You may meet Laura Taylor on March 15 from noon-2 pm at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center, Women’s Clinic, room 2384, 820 S. Damen Avenue, Chicago, Ill.
You can also see the women Veterans art exhibit on our Flickr site.
About the author: Doré Mobley is a Communications Specialist with Patient Care Services