The Healing Nature Of Art

A painting of Vung Tao in Vietnam by veteran John Melillo.

On Monday, March 9, the artwork of Eastport’s John Melillo, a disabled Vietnam veteran, will go on view at New York University’s Kimmel Center for University Life, 60 Washington Square South. The exhibition, “Life Goes On,” opens with a reception from 5 to 7 p.m. and is an art, photography and video series documenting Melillo’s journey through his tour in Vietnam and his discovery of art as a way to cope with a long ago war.

After retiring from a career in business in 2014, Melillo, who struggles with health issues from the war, including Agent Orange and PTSD, began to pursue his interest in art. While in Vietnam, Melillo served as a Military Police officer and also took many photographs of the people going about their everyday lives, making a point to document the positive aspects of the beautiful country and its people there.

“The lesson here is even in the burnt forest the grass still grows, meaning life goes on,” said Melillo who is now using art as a way to reflect on these moments and heal himself by looking back at his original photos, many of which he has turned into “Life Goes On,” a series of oil paintings.

The exhibition is presented in conjunction with NYU’s Military Alliance Community Center and the Center for Student Life to help educate current veterans and students on the use of art therapy as a way to move forward.