Honoring Our Veterans and Those with Invisible Wounds
Yellow Ribbon encircles veterans with symbolism and creative care. For example, yellow ribbons represent support for soldiers returning home and for suicide prevention. Expanding these traditions, Pamela designed Yellow Ribbon with the hands-on involvement of veterans and their families; participants ranged from 2 years old to 92 years old. The project consists of three large, abstract trees that portray the veterans' stories of resilience despite the long-term effects of PTSD, military sexual trauma, and veteran suicide.
This responsive piece can also be adapted to include exhibit visitors through writing thank-you notes by hashtagging #givearibbon via social media, or in person. In addition, Yellow Ribbon has inspired a county-wide veteran art workshop program to help connect the military community through healing art. The workshops provide a friendly space for veterans to experience positive social support, while enjoying creative fun.
Pamela Alderman is an incredible artist who takes on social justice issues such as child trafficking, treatment of refugees, autism, and now, honoring veterans. Her projects engage the public, instilling compassion and activism. She's a giant in the realm of using her talent to do good.
Veteran Art Workshops Contribute to Yellow Ribbon
For the project, Pamela facilitated art workshops for veterans and their families—husbands, wives, moms, dads, siblings, children, and grandchildren.
Everyone at the workshop, from 2 years old to 92 years old, enthusiastically sponge-painted colorful patterns on paper, which they used to create small paintings.
The broken-looking trees portray the veterans' long-term struggle, and the community involvement in the project mirrors the importance of camaraderie to strengthen resilience and promote healing.
Pamela, a veteran's wife and military mom, also used sponge-painted papers to create the large mosaic paintings (details shown) on the main 9-foot tree, while the two 6-foot trees exhibit paintings created by our veterans.
Because of their unique career challenges, the military members need a strong sense of community to survive and flourish.
The Yellow Ribbon installation at night in Veterans Memorial Park during ArtPrize 2021.
At the ArtPrize 2021 installation, visitors in Grand Rapids, Michigan, wrote more than 10,000 yellow ribbon notes to encourage deployed soldiers and veterans.
Yellow Ribbon on the Bridge was hosted by Kent County Veterans Services, Michigan Veteran Affairs Agency, [Has Heart], and ArtPrize.
The responsive piece, in collaboration with [Has Heart], also creates a local sense of community, as we rally behind our veterans and troops.
Following ArtPrize, our ongoing Yellow Ribbon Project was installed at nine Steelcase locations around the country, where their employees had an opportunity to interact and write inspiring notes.
We had no idea what we were in for…but it turned out to be something easy and fun—decoupaging painted scraps of paper onto a plywood tree, and maybe planting a seed for future good things to happen.
Yellow Ribbon workshop participant
The Yellow Ribbon project has expanded to include virtual veteran art workshops through Kent County Veterans Services.
- 92 For 22
- Kent County Veterans Treatment Court
- Ottawa-North Kent Blue Star Mothers and Marne American Legion
- Blue Star Mothers of South Kent and American Legion 305
- Blue Star Mothers of Ionia, Kent and Montcalm and Ray I. Booth American Legion
- Grand Rapids Home for Veterans
- Holland Home Independent Living
- Finish the Mission
- WINC: For All Women Veterans
- Veterans Upward Bound Program
Over 350,000 individuals have participated in Pamela's hands-on installations over the first ten years of ArtPrize. Drawing on her own journey towards restoration, her popular work continues to expand to new communities, focusing on finding solutions to life's challenges. Contact Pamela today to commission an interactive exhibit, virtual experience, or inspiring presentation—utilizing art as a healing tool.