November 12, 2019


Yesterday on Veteran’s Day, we shared a blog post by Peter Buotte, veteran, art therapist, and sculptor, on his exhibit “Invisible Wounds,” now on display in the Texas State Capitol ground floor Rotunda in Austin from November 11 to November 18, 2019. We asked Peter to answer a few questions about this exhibit and his art process!

What are you hoping that lawmakers walking the Capitol halls will take away from your exhibit?

My intent for lawmakers and the general viewing public is to experience visual and emotional resonance. The sculptures and digital photos may be a starting point to understand post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury.  PTS and TBI do not discriminate!

Can you share a bit about the art process technique you use?   

I first asked myself how would Michelangelo make his works today, by hand? I suspect he’d work with current technology. The sculptures can be considered three-dimensional photographs. Dozens of photos are digitally meshed together to create the virtual object. I want the work to be at least 10% larger than life for sculptural presence. There are only two prototype printing machines in the country which can handle the printing size. One is in the Smithsonian; the one that I use in New York City. It usually prints architectural and skyscraper models. They always like to see my figurative works come through! I prefer to have a small maquette made first, then it can be color corrected, and positioned in relation to neighboring pieces and the base. Once finalized, there is a piece as unique as the service member who posed for it.

After more than 20 years of active and reserve military service, including five combat tours overseas and reaching Lieutenant Colonel rank, how did you learn about the art therapy field and decide to pursue a career in it?

I was invited by Deb Farber, the head of the Art Therapy Department at the School of Visual Arts. She saw my artworks in a group exhibit at the school gallery, which were all related to combat deployment in Iraq. She knew I had earned a BFA at SVA, and was convincing that I would be a good candidate. I like New York City, so voila!  Even then, it took five years to complete the two-year program. I deployed before starting it, then between first and second years, and again after graduation!

Digitally-rendered sculptures and photographs of US Combat Veterans experiencing traumatic brain injury and/or post-traumatic stress pieces being displayed in “Invisible Wounds.” This exhibit is in conjunction with the Austin Veterans Art Festival, a month-long arts event that features creative veterans nationwide.*Note: Each service member has participated voluntarily, signed an individual release, and has never been a patient in my service line.*

A closing reception for “Invisible Wounds” will be held on the South Steps, Saturday, November 16, 10:30 am -12 noon.