Marine veteran finds healing through the arts – San Bernardino Sun

Much of Tracy Hutchinson’s life has been spent in and around the military. The longtime Riverside resident was born in an Air Force hospital to a father who was in the US Air Force and a mother who was British. Her step father was in the Army. She attended nine schools, including those within the Department of Defense Dependent Schools system overseas.

Hutchinson said many children in the military school system choose their favorite duty station as a hometown, which for her was Karlsruhe, Germany.

“Ellie in Full Color,” a painting by Riverside artist and Marine Corps veteran Tracy Hutchinson. (Courtesy of Tracy Hutchinson)

“I was a Knight, a Karlsruhe Knight, graduating high school in 1976,” she said. “I have a most unique class ring, which I’m very proud of.”

Hutchinson had no intention of joining the military, herself. When she was 19, she accompanied two friends to a Colorado Springs Navy recruiter, but only as an observer.

“When we got to the recruitment office the Navy recruiter wasn’t there, but the Marine Corps recruiter was,” she said. “He claimed that he would take us to the testing center and when we got back the Navy recruiter could take over. I hope you can see the obvious flaws in that rationale.”

Hutchinson said that when they arrived at the testing center, the Marine recruiter told her she wasn’t allowed to observe and that she would have to take the test alongside her friends.

“He brought us back to the office where we waited for the test results, which is when we learned that my friends failed and I passed,” she said. “That’s when all the promises were being made and the signing on the dotted line was complete.”

Just as she didn’t intend on joining the Marines, Hutchinson had no plans to become an artist. In 2013 she decided to take some time off to write a draft of a memoir about coming of age and becoming a Marine. Her mother, who has an extensive background in art, thought Hutchinson would go crazy with nothing to do but write for a month.

“I made a deal with her that she would come on Skype and teach me the basics of drawing,” Hutchinson said. “It was kind of like being bitten by an inspired bug. I had all of the symptoms of trying to figure out what was next in the art world that I wanted to get my hands on.”

Hutchinson explained that she had PTSD which had gone undiagnosed for nearly 40 years.

“Before I was getting help from the VA, I was simply trying to paint and draw what might be marketable,” she said. “Now that I have finished several programs that are helping me to come to terms with my trauma, I see creating art in a very different way. I can acknowledge that I have trauma. I can really see how the art has allowed the part of myself, which I’ve guarded and protected for so many years, to come forth and be seen.”

Hutchinson is also an avid traveler, however, for her — there is travel before she became an artist, and travel after.

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