In papermaking workshops, veterans pound their combat uniforms into cathartic works of art.
No matter your views on war, there's no denying that many veterans have been through hell, and often don't have enough cultural and legal resources to support their healing process. The government often drops the ball when it comes to follow-up therapy for veterans with post-traumatic stress syndrome. There is often silence around the fact that female soldiers get raped so often.
The Combat Paper Project won't solve these problems, but it may help ease the pain. In the vein of art therapy, the project hosts papermaking workshops that help veterans come to terms with their personal experiences in combat. They cut up their uniforms, beat them into a pulp and mold them into sheets of paper. By witnessing their uniforms' transformation and reclaiming them as works of art, veterans work through their experiences head-on. The project also provides an alternative narrative of war and how to deal with it, one that doesn't necessarily require the proverbial "stiff upper lip." Drew Cameron, the co-director of the project, explains on the website that "[r]eshaping that association of subordination, of warfare and service, into something collective and beautiful is our inspiration."
Here are some upcoming gallery shows where Combat Paper art will be on display.
images courtesy of the Combat Paper Project website