ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Over at the Morean Arts Center, a form of therapy has been around for years to help veterans facing a variety of issues – including PTSD.
The St. Petersburg-based facility expanded the program to include clay-making classes for veterans. It's called "Operation: Art of Valor," a community-based art program for veterans that provides opportunities for creative self-expression outside of clinical care. It began in 2018 as a partnership with the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital.
The program started with glass-blowing, then it expanded to photography. Now, it includes clay.
"It’s a very therapeutic medium because it has that sense of touch," explained Mike Cannata, a resident artist and Art of Valor teacher. "Glass blowing is so quick and clay is kind of at your own pace."
Cannata specifically teachers "throwing" through the program, which is basically the act of making pottery on the wheel. For John, a Navy veteran, he said he entered the class to challenge himself.
"I retired and I was a painter, doing artwork, and took a tour here," he told FOX 13. "Then decided I wanted to take up clay which was four or five years ago. I’m here five days a week, now."
His specialty is in hand-building but decided to take the class on throwing.
"Yeah, to expand my knowledge, still doing clay," he said. "This isn’t as easy as hand-building though."
Art, a Marine veteran, said the classes create a healthy outlet for himself and other fellow veterans.
"It’s a very healthy way to focus your attention in a positive and creative way," he explained. "It is part of my structure that I use to balance out my hypervigilance."
The Morean Center for Clay is the largest of its kind for clay in the Southeast with nearly 60 resident artists in here doing some beautiful work. To learn more about the Art of Valor program, click here.