To bridge the gap between the perception and the reality of combat, the National Veterans Art Museum offers a place where all can experience combat inspired art. NVAM provides both a physical and emotional space for veterans and civilians of all ages to come gain a new appreciation for how the split-second decisions made in combat can impact a lifetime.
Vonnegut’s "Odyssey" explores connections between the timeless and universal story of veterans’ return from combat through the artwork of World War II veteran and famed author Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
Vonnegut enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1943 and was deployed to fight overseas in Europe during WWII. He was later captured at the Battle of the Bulge and served as a Prisoner of War until 1945 when he returned to the U.S. and was awarded the Purple Heart. These experiences largely shaped his creative endeavors including his well-known published literature and his body of artwork. From WWII through Vietnam and beyond, Vonnegut was an active voice in American culture and society—openly discussing war and its effects publicly.
After establishing himself as an important American author during the late 1960's with the publication of “Slaughterhouse-Five” (1969), Vonnegut later became recognized for his drawings that often accompanied his writings. These drawings vary in subject matter from his “Purple Heart” to his illustrious “Asterisk.” Building on these drawings, Vonnegut worked with printer Joe Petro III to create a prolific catalog of artwork. Presented together, these artworks reflect the connections between Vonnegut’s return home from World War II and Homer's epic of Odysseus's return home after the Trojan War. In fostering this dialogue about the long-term reintegration process experienced by veterans, Vonnegut’s “Odyssey” captures NVAM’s mission to inspire greater understanding of the real impact of war and offer visitors a chance to see the world through veterans’ artwork, as well as one of the 20th century’s most impactful creative minds.