Women Veterans Empowered & Thriving will host storytelling performances 

BETHLEHEM, Pa.— In partnership with Women Veterans Empowered & Thriving (WVE&T), the Banana Factory’s Banko Gallery will soon showcase an exhibition centering around the experiences of women veterans through the ritual of storytelling. In celebration of the exhibit the group will host an opening ceremony featuring storytelling, networking and community gathering from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday Jan. 21 and a closing reception Saturday, March 18 from 2 to 4 p.m., at the Banana Factory. WVE&T artists will attend both Feb. 3 and March 3 First Friday events at the Banana Factory for artist talks. These events are free and open to the public.

“ArtsQuest has been a huge supporter of WVE&T. We host our in-person workshops at the Banana Factory and have performed at ArtsQuest and the Banana Factory on Memorial Day weekends,” Jenny Pacanowski, Founder and Director of WVE&T said. “The support we received from ArtsQuest has made it possible for Women Veterans Empowered & Thriving to grow and thrive in the Lehigh Valley, nationally and internationally.”

WVE&T is a reintegration program for women veterans that utilizes writing and performances to empower experience and to facilitate skills to thrive in daily life. One of the opportunities for the participants of the WVE&T programs is to embody the ritual of storytelling. The group creates curated live performances, to build a bridge of communication between veterans and civilians. The nonprofit encourages women to use the ritual of storytelling, writing and public speaking to process and express their experiences in the service while also offering an opportunity for the community to support and witness the veterans sharing their stories.

After hosting poetry and spoken word workshops on the ArtsQuest campus for years, it was a natural transition for the nonprofit group to bring its ritual storytelling performances to the Banko Gallery through the realm of visual arts for its own exhibit.

“The ArtsQuest staff is really excited to be working with Jennifer Pacanowski, the Women Veterans Empowered and Thriving organization and all of the participating artists,” Nicole Gencarelli, ArtsQuest Visual Arts Manager said. “And excited to bring more awareness to their work and WVET’s mission with this exhibition.”

Just as not all veterans’ experiences and stories are the same, the artwork ranges in medium and subject, some of which have been years in the making. By sharing the soul-baring expressions the hope is to reconnect the two cultures, military and civilian, through the storytelling events as ancient warrior cultures did. The public is invited to attend and join in becoming part of the solution for the reintegration of veterans into the community.

According to Pacanowski, this will be the group’s first exhibit of this kind. “It is a huge accomplishment for the women in the organization and for women veterans everywhere,” she said.

Pacanowski said the exhibits not only provide a forum to display artists’ talents, but also to educate and grow awareness of the struggles and triumph of women veterans.

“As women veterans it is so important to be recognized for your service especially for women who have served between the 1960s to 2001– often veterans are only associated with older men,” said Pacanowski.

WVE&T’s empowerment workshop are ongoing and free to attend, with separate groups for women vets only, all veterans and civilian support members of veterans including families, caretakers and practitioners of veterans.

For a complete list of upcoming workshops visit:

For a full schedule of current and upcoming Art Exhibitions visit: