Photo Project Seeks to Help Vets Heal

by Stephen Freeman

For many soldiers the return home from battle can present many challenges, unique from the very clear and nearby challenges they faced while in action.

The Odyssey Project, named for the epic poem recounting Odysseus’ return from battle, offers combat veterans an outlet for expression in making their own journey home from battle, a process that can take a lifetime. The veterans started working on their projects, a 12-week     process that has June 10, 2019 culminated in a showing of the work the participants create. The Odyssey Project is currently on display at the CEPA Gallery in downtown Buffalo.

Brandon Bannon, a photojournalist and educator who has worked around the world, is one of the creators of the project. He said he was inspired to start the project because the project gives veterans an outlet for their trauma through artistic expression that tells the story of their journey to get home. It also helps them overcome the traumatic experiences that became obstacles along the way.

“I am not a veteran and I have never been in combat, Bannon said. “But I have been around it and have seen the aftermath of combat first hand, and when I was conceiving of the Odyssey project, I was leaning on all those experiences to do so, and a lot of the ways to connect are predicated on and understanding the impact trauma has in people’s lives.”

There were 4 groups of veterans that meet for 12 weeks that participated in the Odyssey workshop. The Purpose of the workshop was to foster understanding between the veteran and their families and civilians and so people can understand what the coast of keeping this country safe.

“What we are offering with the odyssey workshop is a way to use creativity to explore and address trimitic experiences, to comment on them and to share them.” Bannon said.

Bannon’s inspiration for the Odyssey Workshop Project stemmed from some deep seeded psychological trauma that he faced and overcame with the use of artistic expression that allowed him to find the normality in his life again, he said.

“What influenced this Project was two complex situations that coincided with each,” Bannon said. “The first was myself falling into deeply depressive episodes, and the second was a world war two veteran that used his combat trauma that helped me through art and creativity, find a way to engage in my life more productively.”

The show, which was originally scheduled to end this month, has been extended through Dec. 28 due to its popularity.

“I hope they have the experience of looking at theses work and paying attention to it. Because there is a unique opportunity that we have now to witness the stories that have gone untold. You have a collective experience of 35 individuals that have gone through one of life unique and challenging and complex experiences, and their sharing their reflections on them. what I hope happens people come in and ingang and follow up with that person if their curiosity is inspired by what they see.”

The odyssey is a Greek epic poem that tells of Odysseus’s return journey home. This is the basis to Brandon Bannon’s odyssey workshop Project.

Check out a photo gallery of the show from The Scribe’s Scott Peet: hilbertcollegenews.com/2019/11/05/gallery-the-odyssey-project/

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