EVENT: Meet The Exploring Milwaukee Photographers
VA Medical Center certified therapeutic recreation specialist Courtney Zeller, pictured above, and Milwaukee artists and VA volunteer Anita Burgermeister will also be there to talk about the project.
Mission: Fill the Walls
The exhibit is the culmination of a photography project offered through the VA Medical Center recreation therapy program for veterans receiving treatment in the Housing and Urban Development, Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing and mental health programs.
The program was developed by Zeller, who says she got the idea for a photography project after doing some home visits with some of her clients. “The walls were all bare,” she says. “I started thinking about ways to change that.”
Zeller was interested not only in the decorative appeal of photography. Like other arts, photography can provide many therapeutic benefits to veterans with mental and/or physical health disorders, like post-traumatic stress disorder, substance use disorder/addictions, obesity, chronic pain, and social isolation. The benefits include improved self-esteem and confidence from learning new skills, exploring the community and acquiring new healthy leisure skills.
With Zeller and Milwaukee artist Burgermeister, the veterans learned about lighting, framing, subject matter and composition as they explored Grant Park, Boerner Botanical Gardens, the Third Ward and Milwaukee river- and lakefronts. The exhibit also features photos the veterans took at Holy Hill and Kelly Lake as part of other recreation therapy programs. Elmbrook Rotary provided funding for the photo equipment and the printing.