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"Unmasked' photography exhibit to be displayed at Luther Nov. 12-Jan. 10

Decorah Public Opinion of Decorah, Iowa

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Freelance photojournalist Lynn Johnson depicts recovering veterans of the Middle East wars in her large-scale photograph exhibit "Unmasked: Soldiers Heal from Blast Force Damage" on display Nov. 12 to Jan. 10, in Luther College's Preus Library.

The exhibit is open to the public with no charge for admission.

The opening of the show includes a reception in the Hovde Room of Preus Library from 5-7:15 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12. A special invitation is extended to area veterans and their families to come together at that time.

Brain trauma from blast force is the signature injury of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Blast events create a pressure so powerful, it can be seen before it is heard or felt. Soldiers remember confusion, deafness and the feeling of being squashed. Blast-induced injury can result in language and hearing problems, memory loss, migraines, sleeplessness and suicidal thoughts.

Johnson's work was featured as the cover story of the February 2015 issue of National Geographic Magazine.

The National Intrepid Center of Excellence, part of the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, serves some of the 360,000 men and women wounded by blast force injuries. In addition to receiving brain imaging and care from physicians and therapists, soldiers make masks as part of the center's art therapy program. According to Johnson, "Making art cracks open the trauma and then knits the brain. The masks, like MRIs of their psyches, make the scars of blast force visible, a first step to healing."

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Original Publication Date: November 3, 2015

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