Combat Paper Project: Liberating Uniforms into Art

October 10, 2009

Last week-end I attended the Morgan Art of Papermaking Conservatory’s Anniversary Celebration and Open House here in Cleveland, which was tons of fun– great music, good food, silent art auction, and papermaking and printing demos.  My main objective in attending the Open House was to connect with Drew Matott, one of the Founders of Combat Paper Project who was traveling to Cleveland for the celebration.  What a pleasure this was!   Check out my Facebook photos from this evening here.

I have been very interested in CPP’s work and mission- Here’s some  information from the Combat Paper website about the project:

The story of the soldier, the Marine, the men and the women and the journeys within the military service in a time of war is the basis for this project. The goal is to utilize art as a means to help veterans reconcile their personal experiences as well as broaden the traditional narrative surrounding service, honor and the military culture.

Through papermaking workshops veterans use their uniforms worn in combat to create cathartic works of art. The uniforms are cut up, beat and formed into sheets of paper. Veterans use the transformative process of papermaking to reclaim their uniform as art and begin to embrace their experiences as a soldier in war.

The Combat Paper Project is based out of Green Door Studio in Burlington, VT and has traveled throughout the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, providing veterans’ workshops, exhibitions, performances and artists’ talks. This project is made possible by a multifaceted collaboration between artists, art collectors, academic institutions and combat veterans.

Through ongoing participation in the papermaking process, combat papermakers are attempting to progress from creating works specific to their military experiences to expressing a broader vision on militarism and society. The work reflects both the anger of the past and hope for the future. Through this collaboration between civilians and veterans, a much-needed conversation is generated regarding our responsibilities to the returned veteran and an understanding of the dehumanizing effects of warfare.  ~ From About Combat Paper Project

Combat Paper Project

Combat Paper Project

Art from destruction, resistance, pain, and opposition that is then altered and re-constructed into something that is freeing, healing, and with a new life and meaning  has always interested me in my work as an art therapist. With many of the traumatized and grieving youth I have worked with,  I have witnessed what the process of tearing, ripping, destroying, and breaking down a material (paper, clay, wood, fabric, etc.) and the emotions, memories this can surface… then guiding the same de-constructed material into re-constructed art that can be experienced at a different perspective, as well as tell or show a new story rooted in hope and resiliency.

The highlight of the MPC Open House was meeting Donna– a veteran who participated in CPP workshops this summer in Cleveland @ MPC and had some of this art included in the silent art auction. Donna was able to share with me her experience  about being a Combat Papermaker and the transforming power the process had for herself and the group of veterans who participated in the workshop.  To listen to  her testimony and memories while  looking through and holding a book completely made of paper from her  military uniform was humbling and an honor.   

You can learn more about the papermaking process of The Combat Paper Project by viewing the video below.

If you are interested in following the updates, travels, and work of the Combat Paper Project, you can find them here on Facebook or visit their website http://www.combatpaper.org – which includes information about the artists, exhibits, residencies, upcoming events and workshops, sponsorship opportunities, and how to donate to the cause.

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6 Responses to “Combat Paper Project: Liberating Uniforms into Art”

  1. ahnku Says:

    kita sedang ada diskusi efisiesni kertas untuk menyelamatkan hutan dan pohon di http://ahnku.wordpress.com/2009/10/11/cintai-lingkungan-dengan-efisisensi-kertas/ berikan masukan ya…
    (Bahasa Indonesia)

  2. Jen kristel Says:

    I can attest tothe power of what Drew and others are doing. The work at the Green Door Studio is deeply inspiring and creative. I urge everyone to explore this medium- and process.


  3. What a moving story. I have so many men and women in mind that could benefit from this.

  4. n2theblue Says:

    such a moving and inspiring post. i’m so glad to have found your blog.


  5. […] Not War March 17, 2010 In October, I introduced The Combat Paper Project (CPP) with this post about how this powerful collaborative and transformative art process of  pulping combat uniforms […]


  6. […] work of The Combat Paper Project, which has appeared on Creativity in Motion before with my posts Combat Paper Project: Liberating Uniforms into Art and Make Paper, Not […]


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