Watch: Big Red Barn Introduces Art Healing Program

The non-profit organization is implementing a new art healing program to help veterans

Columbia , S.C. (WOLO) — A midlands non-profit organization is introducing a new healing program for veterans. Starting in February, the Big Red Barn Retreat will hold it’s first art workshop to help veterans heal.

Jim Dukes, the Director of Healing Art Programs, is also a veteran. He said art changed his life.

“It saved my life,” said Dukes. “It’s given me direction and purpose.”

For Dukes, the layers of colors and details portrayed in photographs are a release from a life that was once shadowed in hardship and self-doubt. Dukes served in the military as an EOD Tech, disabling bombs.
“I’ve had 5 traumatic brain injuries, it’s left me blind in my right eye and mostly deaf in my right ear,” explained Dukes. “Coping with a lot of those experiences over the years was difficult, I attempted suicide twice.”
He came through the pain by channeling his creativity and capturing the worlds moments through a lens.
“It gave me a purpose from determining whether I was going to be a man with a disability or just a disabled man,” said Dukes. “It’s been able to provide me that outlet and purpose for being.”
An outlet Dukes hopes to help provide other veterans through his work at the Big Red Barn Retreat.  The non-profit healing organization is offering free monthly art workshops to help other veterans cope with similar challenges.
“Once you can sit around a table and start creating art together and have these discussions you realize that you’re not such a bad person and you’re not alone in what you’re experiencing,” said Dukes.
The art sessions provide an experience of camaraderie and hope to serve as a safe haven for veterans.
The first art workshop will be held February 27th from 11am-2pm.
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