We are thrilled to announced the three prize winners of our 2020 Veterans Day Craft & Salute arts & crafts contest. This nationwide, patriotic arts contest was open to all in which contestants submitted art pieces that depict what military service or patriotism means to them. The purpose of the online competition is to honor veterans while celebrating the healing and unifying power of crafting, and veterans, crafters and families from across the country participated. Submissions have included a variety of mediums: mixed media, digital art, sculpture, blacksmithing, woodwork, performance art, and body/face paint.

Contestants’ entries were reviewed by a distinguished panel of judges including Joe McClain, Retired Navy Captain, CEO, Help Heal Veterans; Mark Kaleimamahu, U.S. Marine Corps Veteran and America’s Got Talent Semi-Finalist; Beth Kingston, craft expert at The Home Shopping Network and military spouse; and Ana Schwager, Community Outreach Lead at Southwest Airlines.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to submit for this contest! We will be posting more of the incredible entries here so please watch this space.


First Prize Winner: Maria-Eliza Cabarrus, Army Veteran (Maywood, Illinois)

Sculpture: But On The Inside 

From the artist: Even though my injury from the military has wreaked havoc and derailed my initial plans in life, I don't regret a single thing. It was my honor to serve our country. The injury depicted in my art piece is what catapulted me to my true calling. It reminds me to savor this joy ride until the wheels fall off doing what makes me happy. All the while, making art that hopefully inspires and touches others. I strive to make something visually pleasing but even more important, I want it to mean something. Made in 2020, this piece is my first sculpture. I wanted it to embody the pain that I endure on a daily basis. Pain that isn't visible to the naked eye. Invisible pain that many of my fellow veterans struggle with.

Second Prize Winner: Sherman Watkins, United States Air Force Veteran (Hampton, Virginia)

Paintings: Black History V-I-P and The Quilt                                

From the artist: [The first painting] took me two years to complete, 72 portraits: oil on canvas. The painting illustrates some of the accomplishments of Black Americans. I am 79 years  old  and  while  looking  up  the  information  on  these  people,  I  learned  something  about  the achievements of Black Americans. I hope this painting brings some insight to schools and the American people on the accomplishments of Black Americans. The second piece, “The Quilt” tells what each person did, painted in acrylic.

Third Prize Winner: Ting Du, Navy Veteran (San Diego, California)

Woodwork: Sailboat of Hope and Beacon of Light

From the artist: As a retired sailor, the boat reminds me of all those days and nights that I had spent underway among the deep blue ocean. Not only does it symbolize all the tumultuous hardships that I have successfully navigated through in life, it also symbolizes the ultimate inner soul journey that I am still sailing and navigating through, within the heart, searching for the ultimate truth, freedom, and the place of peace and harmony: harmony with the self, and harmony with all nature-beings on earth. The tower symbolizes the beacon of light and beacon of hope. Even during the darkest nights with the most difficult conditions in the ocean, as long as we can see the beacon of light within our own hearts, we will be able to find our own path back home.