Military Kid Art Project & Brats Without Borders are proud to announce the official launch of the world’s very first art institute for military brats.

What Is the BRAT Art Institute?

The BRAT Art Institute is the first multidisciplinary art institute for Military Brats in the world.  Currently based out of Virginia, which has one of the largest concentrations of military families in America, the BRAT Art Institute will initially feature:

  • Art camps & workshops for military kids & teens, guided by professional artists who were also raised in military families.
  • Professional development for teachers and counselors who work with military youth.
  • Community forums to share the resulting artwork and educational curriculum, and spark dialogue that will narrow the civilian-military cultural divide – one student and one teacher at a time.
  • A library of Military Brat art, history, and research, in one place, for generations to come.

Art binds communities and illuminates culture as few things can.  This is especially true for military children who move 6-9 times before they graduate, and are then scattered to the winds like the petals of a dandelion, with no geographical “home” to which to belong.

“Art is the most profound way in which a group of people can understand their culture and other cultures. Somehow, art gets at the soul of who we are as a people. It transcends race, class, and gender. It transcends sexual orientation. It transcends history. It transcends war. It, for me, is the only thing that truly is eternal. Histories get rewritten and changed. They get buried. But art, for some reason, manages to remain untainted.”
— Poet-Playwright Marcus Gardley, Playwriting Professor/Brown University, MFA/Yale Drama School

The BRAT Art Institute provides that “home” and ensures Military Brat art and culture is not lost, ignored, or forgotten.  It also honors the service and sacrifice of military youth by giving them a voice in their own narrative, history and future.

Why We Need the BRAT Art Institute

Military Brats are one of the largest, but least known, studied, served, or preserved subcultures in America.  There are almost as many brats as there are veterans – 2 million currently “serve,” 15 million are adult brats. But most military parents did not grow up military, so they don't know the subculture exists, much less that they should teach their children about it.  

Our mission is to understand and empower military youth through art and creativity.

For a child, growing up military can be cruel, magical, privileged, and painful – all at the same time.  They routinely outperform their civilian peers academically (regardless of their parents’ socioeconomic status), and are fast becoming the “quintessential 21st century citizens” from being raised in such mobile, global, and racially diverse environments.

Multiple moves, deployments, and a sense of isolation due to the growing military-civilian cultural divide, however, can place some military children at risk and affect them long into adulthood.  A recent study at the University of Southern California revealed military teens are twice as likely to plan or attempt suicide as their civilian peers.  To truly understand and help these children, we need to look at their art.

BAI's Military BRAT Art Camp

In 2015, BWB and the Military Kid Art Project joined to teach the first Military BRAT Art Camp in Virginia Beach, Virginia. It was a great success!

BAI's Military BRAT Art Camps include art classes in a variety of genres. The camps also feature Military Brat Culture games, movies, and exercises. Each class is led by professional artists, who were also raised in military families. Our teachers don't just understand what it's like to be a military kid - they lived it!

If you're a military kid, there is absolutely no other camp like this in the world.

Click here to find out more!

It’s not just about the art. It’s about understanding who you are and where you’re from.

Call for Adult Brat Artists of All Genres!

If you are an military brat artist (of any age, in any genre) and would like to submit photos of and information about your work to post on our website and in the BRAT Art Institute Library, please contact us.

Brat Art Gallery

Along with the pictures above, here is some of the artwork completed during previous Military Kid Art Project camps. There are also poems, interviews, sculptures, musical performances, and mixed media drawings. Click here to see more

Our Founders

Lora is an artist, educator, curator, and Marine Corps brat, whose professional life has been dedicated to documenting the military child experience.  Founder of the Military Kid Art Project, Lora earned a BFA in Painting/Printmaking and studied Art Education at VCU.  She has been teaching art for over 20 years, and her own art has been exhibited across the United States and Europe, with several of her pieces in private and corporate collections.

She served as Director, and remains an emeritus member, of the 1708 Gallery, one of the oldest artist-run nonprofit galleries in America.  Lora has developed and hosted numerous free summer art camps for military children and families in all stages of the deployment cycle for organizations such as the Smithsonian, Boys & Girls Club, YMCA, 4-H, Virginia Tech, the Virginia Public School System, Operation Military Kid, and the Red Cross.

Donna Musil

Donna is a writer, filmmaker, lawyer, and Army brat, who has spent the last two decades researching, teaching, and creating films documenting the military brat experience.  She received a JD and ABJ from the University of Georgia, practiced law, then quit to pursue a writing/ filmmaking career.  In 1999, Donna founded Brats Without Borders, the only 501(c)(3) nonprofit in the country that serves military “brats” of all ages.  In 2006, she made BRATS: Our Journey Home, the award-winning documentary about growing up military, narrated by Kris Kristofferson and featuring the late General Norman Schwarzkopf.  She has led numerous workshops around the world about military youth at Virginia Tech, USF, Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Programs, the Service Children’s Support Network in London, and various military bases.  She is currently filming Our Own Private Battlefield, the first feature documentary on the intergenerational effects of combat PTSD on military children.

In 2011, Beldon and Musil teamed up to co-curate UNCLASSIFIED: The Military Kid Art Show, the first contemporary traveling art exhibit exploring the military child experience.  The show received one of six Newman's Own Awards for breaking the mold and creating innovative programs that improve the quality of life for military families, and is currently touring the country.

Contact Us

For more information, please contact us through our Contact Form, or at the following:

Lora Beldon, Executive Director
Military Kid Art Project
+1 (804) 614-8478


Donna Musil, Executive Director
Brats Without Borders
+1 (855) USA-BRAT (872-2728)

Donate to the BRAT Art Institute

If you would like to help support our camps; ensure Military Brat & TCK art and culture is not lost, ignored, or forgotten; and honor the service and sacrifice of military youth by giving them a voice in their own narrative, please make a donation today!