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Local veteran presents photography exhibit to raise awareness of veterans in the arts

By Staff | May 18, 2018

Tabitha Johnston/Chronicle Digital photographer and Vietnam veteran Kimo Williams stands by some of his favorite photographs during his art exhibit’s opening day, May 11.

The United States Veterans Arts Program is featuring a solo photo exhibit by Army veteran, composer and photographer Kimo Williams at 141 West German St., now through July 8.

Open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., the exhibit features a variety of digital art captured throughout Williams’ life in Shepherdstown, Chicago, Kuwait and Vietnam.

“This is my first solo photo exhibit in Shepherdstown,” said Williams, a retired Columbia College Chiacgo professor, who taught music management at the college for 40 years. “I’ve always loved photography. Retiring gave me time to take and exhibit my pictures, and here we are.

“This exhibit speaks about who I am, what I’ve done,” Williams said. “That’s what art is about – to speak about your life experiences and capture the world around you.”

Williams said one of his photographs is from his band’s international tour, while another is a self portrait in Vietnam during the Vietnam War. Williams will donate all of the exhibit’s photograph and CD sales profits to the USVAP. He will also, if asked, perform a Jimi Hendrix song for donations.

“Our nonprofit provides a different perspective of veterans,” Williams said, explaining veterans are often stereotyped. “Society perpetuates this idea that a veteran’s life is like what’s on a video game, or when you see a platoon or what you read about homeless veterans with PTSD and addiction. I want to try the best I can and address this misinformation.

“It’s very important for me to provide a different perspective through art,” he added. “Art isn’t just therapy; it’s a form of expression. If you make one stroke of red paint across a canvas, it means so much more than words and makes people ask, ‘What does that mean?'”

Williams and his wife, textile artist, musician and Army veteran Carol Williams, formed USVAP in 1998, and have been showing art exhibits in the German Street storefront since September. If it raises enough funds over the summer, the gallery will remain at the location and will expand its national efforts to bring visibility to veterans in the arts.

Williams said he wants the photographs and music to create a community dialogue about what it means to be a veteran.

“I’m hoping people engage in a conversation about the concept of heroes, warriors and what it means to serve,” he said.

To find out more or donate to USVAP, visit USVAP.org or contact admin@usvap.org.