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Art helps build unity among spouses

Scott Hansen/JBLM PAO Artist Hyeran Choi, left, and Capt. Melvin Sanborn examine the 296th Brigade Support Battalion exhibit, including a pencil and ink drawing by Amanda Burke, right, entitled “Moxy, 72 Days.”

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Even when physically apart, art has the ability to bring people together.

While 296th Brigade Support Battalion Soldiers were deployed to Afghanistan the past year, art classes helped them stay connected with their Families. With their Soldiers recently returned, Family members' artwork was displayed in an exhibition in the battalion conference room Monday.

"That's what this exhibit is about, to bring us together so we can appreciate each other a little bit more," said Lt. Col. Michael Siegl, commander of 296th BSB, a battalion in 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. The commander's wife, Sura, led the weekly art classes out of the Siegl home or at the battalion headquarters. Many of the Family members who attended the classes had little to no art experience.

Art created during the deployment and pieces made in previous years were on display in the headquarters. The exhibit opened Monday afternoon, allowing Soldiers to see their Families' work for two days until it closed Wednesday.

"We all have this creative talent," Lt. Col. Siegl said. "We just need to practice a little bit and it will all come out." Hyeran Choi had no drawing experience before she attended the art classes.

"It gave us an excuse to get together with Army wives with the same issues," Choi said.

While her husband, Capt. Melvin Sanborn, was deployed, Choi drew three pieces: "Wooden Block," "Second to None," and "The Army of God." She wanted to draw pictures inspired by Army themes to show appreciation for the work Soldiers do.

Choi also displayed the Korean-style jewelry boxes she had made.

Like Choi, Jennifer Widmer didn't have an art background before attending the classes. She enjoyed the freedom of sketching anything she wanted and chose to draw a butterfly, which was displayed on the wall of the conference room.

Widmer was coping with her husband's first deployment during the art classes. After the exhibit she plans to hang her artwork in her bedroom.

"It will remind me of the fun times at the classes," she said. "Sometimes we didn't draw; we just talked and got to know people. It built a nice cohesion between different companies. It built unity."

The art pieces ranged from drawings to paintings to mixed-media creations. Tables also displayed jewelry pieces and artwork by children.

"(Sura's) intent was to highlight the tremendous amount of creative talent and skills we have amongst our Family members," Siegl said. "Not just in this battalion, but across JBLM."

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