Posts Tagged ‘Combat Paper Project’

Bridging Papermaking & Art Therapy at GMU

May 21, 2012

CPP Exhibit @ Corcoran Gallery of Art

I just returned from an amazing week of events and helping co-lead a Papermaking as Art Therapy for Trauma Intervention workshop with Peace Paper’s Drew Matott at George Mason University as part of Arts, Military, + Healing: A Collaborative Initiative, — a project developed by Tappert & Associates as part of The Arts and the Military.  This week long event was hosted by the Veteran Artist Program (VAP) and included organizations and programs such as Combat Paper Project, Combat Paper NJ, Peace Paper, The Telling Project, and Warrior Writers facilitating workshops at various sites throughout the DC area.

Studio 1009 @ GMU

The workshop that Drew and I presented at GMU included presenting considerations important to papermaking, art therapy, and trauma, as well as provided participants the hands on opportunity to take a significant article of their own clothing to learn the transformative process of making it into paper.


Participants de-constructed/cut up the article of clothing (rag) they brought, had this rag made into pulp, and then learned how to pull and form sheets of their own paper with an introduction to western papermaking.  Participants were also introduced to creative sheet formation (layering pulp of different colors), how to make and use screens from a meaningful photograph for pulp painting, and how to bookbind with the paper we made throughout the week.

AMH Papermakers @ GMU! | Photo: Erwin Thamm

The week flew by!  Lots of meaningful, thoughtful paper and art was reclaimed and made in Studio 1009.  It was an honor to be part of this experience and work with everyone who attended- thank you to all the participants!  Another thank you to the VAP team, George Mason University’s School of Art and Design, Helen Fredrick, and Patrick Sargent for being our hosts during this workshop…such wonderful facilities, equipment, inspiration, and support!

You can check out photos from all the amazing workshops, receptions, performances, and AMH events by viewing this slideshow from VAP.  You can also learn about upcoming Peace Paper activities & papermaking workshops in 2012, as well as follow Peace Paper’s travels and happenings through Facebook.

Update (5/23):  View this video & news piece by Nicole Goodrich from the workshop published via The Army Times.

Rags to Redemption: Combat Paper Project | Vietnam Magazine- June 2011

April 21, 2011

Napalm- John LaFalce, Pulp painting on Combat Paper, 2010

The Combat Paper Project story I was interviewed for in February is now available in the June Issue of  Historynet’s Vietnam Magazine and can also be viewed on-line here.  The very nice six page spread written by Roger Vance features the work and story of CPP, including a special focus about how the project has been helpful for Vietnam Veterans participating in CPP’s veterans workshops.

My contribution to the article  included commenting on the therapeutic qualities connected to the process of papermaking, such as its sensory-based, self-soothing, and mindful elements, as well as the powerful opportunity to make meaning through the process of the uniform deconstruction to gain a new perspective about ones experience about military service.

Take a look:

Arts & the Military @ Arlington Public Library

April 4, 2011

On April 7  Dr. Tara Tappert, Exhibits Curator of The Combat Paper Project will be giving an art talk at The Arlington Public Library to present her work  in researching the role of the arts and its relationship to helping veterans returning from combat and military service, including the work of CPP.  In February, I attended a planning meeting on behalf of Art Therapy Without Borders organized by Dr. Tappert at George Mason University to learn more about her project and how ATWB could get involved.   I hope anyone reading in the Washington DC area interested in the arts, the military, and how veterans can benefit from art and craft making will be able to attend.

Combat Paper Project

Art from The Combat Paper Project will also be on display throughout April at Arlington’s Central Library as part of Arlington Reads 2011, “The Soldier’s Story: Serving Country and Community.” I wish I could attend!

Papermaking, Art Therapy & Combat Paper Project Workshop @ Edgewood College

March 27, 2011

I just returned from spending two days in Madison, Wisconsin to help conduct a papermaking and art therapy workshop with undergraduate art therapy students at Edgewood College with Combat Papermakers Drew Matott and Margaret Mahan. This two day workshop exposed students to the Combat Paper Project, papermaking practice, art therapy, trauma intervention considerations, and using art as a form of self-transformation.  Students engaged in break out groups, art-making, writing exercises, and hand-ons demonstrations to learn more about how papermaking can help the veteran community cope with emotions and experiences connected to military life.

On Saturday, students also had the opportunity to check out Combatpapermaking at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where workshops were also being held while the Combat Paper Project was in the Madison area.

Thanks to Janice Havlena for bringing us to the Edgewood College campus to work with her art therapy students and all the students who attended throughout these two days!  Thank you to Edgewood College’s Art Department, Edgewood College Art Therapy Students (ECATS), EPB. and the School of Integrative Studies who sponsored this event.

In a couple of weeks at The Society for the Arts in Healthcare 22nd Annual Conference me, Cathy Malchiodi, and Pam DeLuco will be presenting Combat Paper Project: Helping Soldiers Use Papermaking to Reclaim & Reconstruct Their Lives” on Friday, April 15.  This panel presentation will highlight Combat Paper Project and a partnership between artists, art therapists, and veterans to assist returning military personnel in transforming combat uniforms into paper, helping them to reclaim and reconstruct their lives, post war.

If you’re interested in learning more about Combatpapermaking & art therapy check out this resource: Re-designing & Re-visioning

November 15, 2010

My official website was recently updated with some re-designing and re-visioning.  The site highlights my work, services, and interests:

Content featured on includes:

  • Autobiographical Information: Learn more about my work as a Registered Board Certified Art Therapist and Certified Trauma Consultant, my educational training, clinical experience and specializations, interests, as well as professional affiliations with organizations such as The Combat Paper Project, The National Institute for Trauma and Loss in Children, and community organizing with The Art Therapy Alliance and Art Therapy Without Borders, Inc.
  • Information and Resources About Art Therapy– Learn more about what art therapy is and what art therapists do, including definitions, resources, and links from organizations such as The Art Therapy Alliance, International Art Therapy Organization, Art Therapy Without Borders, The Buckeye Art Therapy Association, and The Art Therapy Credentials Board, Inc.
  • Services– Learn more about art therapy services that I provide in the Greater Cleveland, Ohio area, which includes working with agencies and organizations serving traumatized and grieving children, adolescents, and families who have experienced illness, loss, and family violence. Other services highlighted include art therapist supervision, providing art therapy workshops and professional continuing education for agencies, schools, and community groups.
  • On the Grid– Information about my love and passion related to art therapy and technology, including blogging, on-line art therapy communities, podcasts featuring my work and interests, and the art therapy e-zine FUSION.
  • Presentations– View some of my SlideShare presentations about art therapy with children from homes of domestic violence, working with youth coping with grief and loss, as well as the impact of Bruce Perry’s work on my practice as an art therapist and trauma specialist working with traumatized youth.
  • Film/Art Gallery– Watch some of my favorite short videos and films featuring my collage art, altered books, community art events, and initiatives of The Art Therapy Alliance and Art Therapy Without Borders, Inc.

Pulp to Paper: Pieces of Reclamation

September 28, 2010


The film below is about how papermaking can be a transformative, mindful, and reparative process that facilitates and enhances exploration of personal meaning through paper and a handmade book I created.  The paper that was made to create the actual pages of my book were from unwanted personal material and content that was shredded, pulped, re-transformed into handmade paper, and then liberated into new life and meaning for this project.

This video was shown this past week-end at The Buckeye Art Therapy Association Symposium during a presentation by Cathy Malchiodi and me where we discussed the benefits of papermaking for self reclamation and transformation, including the work of The Combat Paper Project (CPP) and testimony about our personal experience with papermaking last March.  Thanks to CPP’s Drew Matott and Drew Cameron for all their help with the papermaking process!!!

Art Therapy Without Borders also premiered Papermaking as Self Reclamation and Transformation: Deconstruction to Reconstruction, a film by The Reel Redwing Studio and Cathy showcasing our papermaking,  inspiration from CPP, and personal story of reclamation.  For a limited time you can view this 10 minute film here through the ATWB website before it is released for purchase.

The Making of Mindfulness through Art

August 25, 2010

It’s planning and preparation time again for this year’s Buckeye Art Therapy Association’s Annual Symposium to be held September 24-25, 2010 in Dublin, Ohio.   This year’s theme, The Making of Mindfulness through Art, will include two days of workshops and presentation offerings highlighting the use of art therapy in the practice of mindfulness, meditation, and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT).  The Symposium Program will also be premiering  ART IS LIFE IS ART: The Life and Work of Don Jones, a documentary by Bruce L. Moon that examines of the extraordinary life and work of BATA and AATA Founder Don Jones.

BATA’s Symposium keynote will be Michael Franklin, Ph.D., ATR-BC, who directed the undergraduate art therapy program at Bowling Green State University from 1986 to 1997 and introduced the field to me as my first art therapy professor.  Dr. Franklin is currently a core faculty for Naropa University’s Transpersonal Counseling Psychology Department and Director of Naropa’s Graduate Art Therapy Program in Boulder, Colorado.

There’s still time to get your registration in if you would like to attend this year’s Symposium and enjoy a little mindfulness and art therapy!  The mail in registration deadline is September 7, 2010.

On Day 2 of the Symposium, Cathy Malchiodi and I will be teaming up again to present Papermaking as Self Reclamation and Transformation: Deconstruction to Reconstruction. This presentation will provide an overview about how papermaking can be a transformative, mindful, and reparative process that facilitates and enhances exploration of personal meaning.  The basics of papermaking as an art therapy approach through practical applications and first person experiences will be explored, as well as highlighting The Combat Paper Project and suggestions for art therapy’s role with returning military.

In connection with this presentation, I have been working on my own handmade book  that chronicles some significant experiences and crossroads in my professional life over the last few years.  The paper that was made to create the pages of this book came from unwanted personal material and content that was shredded, pulped, re-transformed into new sheets of paper, and then liberated into new life and meaning for this project.

I’m really looking forward to sharing some of my personal experience and the art created for this book!

My Book: Papermaking as Self Reclamation and Transformation

Reflections from the 2010 TLC Childhood Trauma Practitioners Assembly

July 17, 2010
I spent a few days this past week at The National Institute for Trauma and Loss in Children Childhood Trauma Practitioners Assembly held near Detroit, Michigan.  As an art therapist working in trauma intervention with youth and families, attending this annual conference has become important in my professional development and keeping up to date about what’s happening in trauma informed care.

Here’s an overview of my experience this year:

Tuesday’s assembly kicked off with an all day program focusing on supporting children of deployed military parents.  The morning session featured a panel of veterans and military spouses who provided attendees with their experiences and insights about living as a military family and reflections to consider to help families and children cope with the challenges of multiple deployments and other issues this population faces.  The panel also included specialists and therapists working on and off base with military families. Read more about the panelists via this blog post from TLC: Supporting Children of Deployed Parents: Voices of Experience Teach Valuable Lessons.

There were many lessons presented to attendees about what these veterans and their family experienced during service and post-service.  Here’s a brief summary from some of my notes about considerations when working with military families:

  • The impact of a parent’s deployment, or very often multiple deployments. The cycle of being deployed affects the entire family system, including the relationship between spouses, with children, and how the overall family unit functions.   Multiple deployments away from home and longer periods of time that the parent at home is left to function as a single parent also prompts new roles, responsibilities, and expectations.  The hardest part voiced by many on the panel was having to re-adjust and shift gears from  military life to civilian life when on leave or returning from a deployment.  These challenges included adjusting from the hyper aroused state instilled and needed for military work, that was no longer needed when returning back to family life.  Re-integrating into a family routine, structure, and roles that includes both parents was another adjustment to balance and for children to also become adjusted to.
  • When a parent is impacted emotionally or physically with signature combat injuries such as PTSD or traumatic brain injury (TBI),  this also affects the whole family.  The returning parent may not be as they were before their deployment.  Families need resources and services to help cope with these life altering changes.
  • Worries of military families and their children- Often there are worries about the cycle of deployment,  the risks and increased fears associated with each time the parent is away he/she will be injured, hurt, or killed. Children in military families may not openly express their worries, concerns, or feelings to protect the military parent, parent running the household alone, or have a hesitation about who to safely talk to and trust that will understand military culture.

What trauma specialists can do to help was also highlighted during this panel:

  • If working with children of military families and their parents, learn more about military culture and language/terminology
  • Family care plans- A plan of action detailing who will take care of the child(ren) is important for deployed parents, especially around situations with chronic moving and possibly being far away from extended family;
  • A need to expand PTSD services for not just veterans, but also to families and their children to help cope as well;
  • Do not assume that if a child lives on a military base with services that he/she is receiving services.  More resources are becoming available, but families sometimes do not access these and a child/family in need may need referring or advocating for;
  • Groups for youth can focus on creating a safe place and addressing themes around worry, sadness, hurt, anger. Art and creative interventions are non-threatening ways to promote self-expression and coping around these topics.

TLC Founder Dr. Bill Steele and faculty Dr. Cathy Malchiodi facilitated an afternoon session where we each given a mini rubber duck and encouraged to create a safe environment for our duck using art supplies such as tissue paper, magazine photo collage, oil pastels, markers, pipecleaners, stickers, and more.  This is an intervention that they facilitated with children of military families as a way to address themes around worry, safety, and other feelings.  It also provides opportunities for storytelling, which may bring out some of the child’s own experiences and narrative.

My Rubber Duck and His Safe Place

The next day I spent my time in two different TLC workshops: WRITE OUT LOUD: A Journal Experience for Families in the Military facilitated by Dr. Linda Peterson- St.Pierre and Trauma Group for Mothers facilitated by Louise Tamblyn and Val Millson.

In WRITE OUT LOUD!, we focused on a series of writing exercises that could help decrease stress and promote coping skills.  As introduced by Peterson-St.Pierre, expression through words and/or art helps with body regulation and encouraging healthy mind/body functioning. We learned about and spent time writing sentence stems, sprints, character sketches, as well as reviewed cluster writing, writing about memories and making lists of life’s stepping stones, roads not taken, and recapturing lost opportunities.  If you’re interested in learning more, Peterson-St. Pierre has published the book WRITE OUT LOUD!  Helping Military Spouses and Children Cope with Life.

Another great resource presented was Operation Homecoming, Writing the Wartime Experience.  This DVD and book  is “a unique documentary that explores the firsthand accounts of American servicemen and women through their own words. The film is built upon a project created by the National Endowment for the Arts to gather the writing of servicemen and women and their families who have participated in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan”. I was also thrilled to see The Combat Paper Project mentioned to the workshop group as another example of how creative self expression is helping veterans with healing and coping. Everyone even received a sheet of Combat Paper to use for doodling or for writing during our various exercises.

My afternoon workshop session Trauma Group for Mothers focused on a facilitating a structured group using TLC’s Adults and Parents Workbook and an overview of how the facilitators conducted the group from intake/beginning to evaluation/end. The group included addressing areas such as, but not limited to introducing concepts of trauma to the women, trauma reactions, secondary wounding, relaxation techniques, victim/survivor thinking, as well as identifying worries, strengthening coping, and de-briefing on the trauma that happened through a series of seven drawings.  The information and ideas from this workshop I can incorporate into my group work with women who have experienced domestic violence.  To learn more about this TLC Intervention Program, check out the Adults and Parents in Trauma: Learning to Survive.

Another noteworthy mention and new addition at this year’s Assembly was the display of art work featuring children’s drawings and paintings from the work of Cathy Malchiodi related to topics that can impact youth such as grief, loss, family issues, separation, self-esteem, and the impact of traumatic events such as 9/11.

Children's Drawings & Paintings @ the Assembly

And finally, my attendance at the this year’s Assembly really inspired and energized me to take my own experiences and work related to trauma intervention to the next level and to start thinking about the next steps for completing my Level 3- Certified Trauma Consultant Supervisor credential.  Cannot wait to attend again next year!

Art Therapy Meets Artist Trading Cards: Let the Swapping Begin!

June 23, 2010

A couple of weeks ago I volunteered to put together an Artist Trading Card (ATC) exchange for Art Therapy Alliance members of the Materials and Media in Art Therapy subgroup on LinkedIn after this posted article featuring ATCs in art therapy sessions inspired discussion and interest to create and learn more about this type of mixed media art.  Very exciting!  To offer a quick overview, ATCs are miniature works of art in the dimensions of 2.5 x 3.5 inches and are meant to be exchanged to connect with other artists and obtain exposure to different techniques, media, and ideas. To learn more about ATCs and see some examples, you can visit Art in Your Pocket: A Primer on Artist Trading Cards by Joumana Medlej.  You can also view this quick ATC overview below:

Our swap’s theme is Art Therapy: Helping Others, Communities, and the World. The exchange has 53 art therapists, art therapy students, and other Alliance community members who will be mailing in four cards and receiving three back.   The fourth card will be used to post on the Art Therapy Alliance’s posterous to showcase this creative collaboration, provide an opportunity to promote art therapy, and the possible benefits of incorporating ATCs in art therapy.

Below are my three ATCs to exchange for this swap.  My ATCs are inspired by populations important to me and where art and art therapy are making a difference in the lives of others in need:


My first ATC was inspired by the 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 War.

This collaborative art project working with veterans to transform their uniforms into paper and reclaim their military experience is such important work.  I believe the work of CPP is a true testament to the process of art-making to help facilitate healing and coping through the act of transformation.


My second ATC is dedicated to the amazing community arts program RAW Art Works in Lynn, MA that works with at-risk youth through providing creative outlets for promoting and strengthening positive self-expression, identity, and community.


My third ATC is related to my own work as an art therapist working with children and also women impacted by domestic violence and the power of art to provide these survivors with a safe voice to share their experiences and memories when words cannot.

I am looking forward to seeing the other responses and reflections related to our art therapy theme and connecting more with Art Therapy Alliance community members through this exchange.  My mailbox is ready to go to receive over 200 ATCs over the next few weeks… Let the swapping begin!

Make Paper, 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 to make paper and art is helping veterans to reclaim and renew meaning about their military experience and veteran identity.  

CPP has embarked on their 2010 Combat Paper & Lecture Tour, already visiting  Boston, MA and Buffalo, NY areas to conduct workshops, speak about the project, and participate in symposia and exhibits showcasing work inspired by the CPP.

I am excited that Cleveland is also a stop on this year’s CPP Tour!  Co-Founders Drew Matott and Drew Cameron will be here next week  in the Cleveland, OH area to teach a course for Ursuline College’s Art Therapy and Counseling Program entitled PTSD Deconstruction: Pulp, Paper, and the Healing Process. 

On Thursday, March 25 there will be a free community lecture about the Combat Paper Project at Ursuline College from 7:00-8:30 p.m. for those interested in learning more about CPP from its Founders and local retired US Marine veteran and Combat Papermaker Donna Perdue.  For more information about this event, download this flyer or check out this event listing on Facebook.  I hope to see you there!

On Friday, 3/26 and Saturday 3/27 students attending the PTSD Deconstruction: Pulp, Paper, and the Healing Process will learn more about the work of CPP, the merging of papermaking with art therapy and in trauma intervention.  This course closed out quickly and hopefully CPP will be back at Ursuline in 2011 for more!  

The class will  include hands on papermaking demonstrations from the Drew’s, my own presentation about papermaking and art therapy, guest presenter Cathy Malchiodi who will talk about art therapy, trauma intervention, and the military, and lots of opportunities to make art around the theme of transformation and reclamation.  Students will also be brainstorming and discussing ways in which the CPP papermaking process can be used with others outside of the veteran population and setting.  I am looking forward to teaching and learning more during these two days!

Papermaking @ Seton Hill Art Therapy Workshop- November 2009

Another happening taking place this same week-end on Saturday and Sunday is a “Transforming Memories to Art” workshop at Cleveland’s Morgan Conservatory of Papermaking led by Donna Perdue and her collaboration Paper Bridges.  This workshop is free and open to community.  The workshop will help individuals who have experienced conflict, trauma, the loss of a loved one, or struggled with an unresolved issue to find peace, hope and embrace this experience with new meaning. 

Participants will be transforming a fabric item of important and symbolic value into works of art through the papermaking process.  Individuals interested in participating are asked to bring a small article of clothing (preferably cotton) to use in the experience through cutting it up, processing it and creating the pulp into sheets of paper. For more information and location details, visit the Paper Bridges website.

Lots of great opportunity to make some paper and learn about the important work of the Combat Paper Project if you are in the Cleveland area or can get here.  Looking forward to seeing everyone throughout these few days!

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