Atkinson Museum Hosts Military Kid Art Exhibit

September 03, 2013

exhibit posterThrough October 26, The Esther Thomas Atkinson Museum on the campus of Hampden-Sydney College is hosting the traveling exhibit, “UNCLASSIFIED: THE MILITARY KID ART SHOW.”  This art exhibit honors the millions of American children whose parents have served in the U.S. military.  

“UNCLASSIFIED” is a field study of military children, featuring 50 years of blue ribbon military kid artwork from around the globe, along with photography, mixed media, sculpture, and film.  The exhibit also features historical artifacts encased in an authentic footlocker and its subject matter includes mobility, deployment, living on overseas military bases, race relations, and transitioning out of the military as an adult.

The show was curated by two military brats, Lora Beldon, Director of the Military Kid Art Project, and Donna Musil, Director of Brats without Borders and Writer-Director of the award-winning documentary about growing up military, BRATS: Our Journey Home.  Historical artwork was provided courtesy of the American Overseas Schools Historical Society, and the footlocker is on loan from Operation Footlocker, courtesy of the Museum of the American Military Family. Additional funding and support has been provided by the Sprint Foundation, Operation Military Kid, the Fisher House Foundation, and the Military Times.

 “We wanted to put together a creative project made by brats about brats,” said Beldon, co-curator and one of the exhibiting artists of UNCLASSIFIED. “‘Brat,’ by the way, is based on the historical acronym, ‘British Regiment Attached Traveler.’" UNCLASSIFIED explores what it means to be a military brat and the profound impact it has on one’s adult life.  I knew I was different than my civilian counterparts, but I never really made the connection until I read what I consider the bible of brat culture, Mary Edwards Wertsch’s book, Military Brats: Legacies of Childhood inside the Fortress.”

 “I’m especially excited about our new film footage on PTSD and family reintegration issues,” said co-curator and filmmaker Musil, who is incorporating the footage into a new documentary. War doesn’t just affect soldiers; it impacts the entire family. Our Own Private Battlefield explores the powerful reintegration of a father and a daughter some twenty years after the Vietnam War, both of whom used art to express their complicated emotions on the subject. Their story shows that it’s never too late to love, and that successful reintegration can be achieved in the most unusual of ways.”

Beldon and Musil’s goal is to create a show that travels the world much like military brats do; one that grows from one city to the next.  Each venue is encouraged to incorporate a regional element to the show, and local brat artists, young and old, are urged to add their own stories and artwork to the project’s website –  The exhibit was one of six projects awarded the prestigious Newman’s Own Award in 2012 for helping improve the lives of military families and was recognized by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey.

“UNCLASSIFIED: THE MILITARY KID ART SHOW” will be on display at the Esther Thomas Atkinson Museum from September 26 through October 26, 2013.  The reception, free and open to the public, is on September 26 from 4:30-7:00 PM, with a curator talk at 5 PM by Beldon.  The exhibit is sponsored by the Hampden-Sydney College Fine Arts Department, Lectures & Programs Committee, and the Atkinson Museum.

Usual hours for the Atkinson Museum are Tuesday through Friday, 10 AM to 12 PM and 1 to 5 PM.  Special hours for this exhibit: open until 7 PM on Thursdays and 11 AM to 4 PM on Saturdays.  For additional information, call 434-223-6134 or visit