Coming home from war is a difficult thing. There is often much to account for as a survivor. A new language must be developed in order to express the magnitude and variety of the collective effect. Hand papermaking is the language of Combat Paper. By working in communities directly affected by warfare and using the uniforms and artifacts from their experiences, a transformation occurs and our collective language is born.
Through papermaking workshops, veterans use their uniforms worn in service to create works of art. The uniforms are cut up, beaten into a pulp and formed into sheets of paper. Participants use the transformative process of papermaking to reclaim their uniforms as art and express their experiences with the military.
The Combat Paper Project is based in San Francisco, CA with affiliate paper mills in New Jersey, New York and Nevada. The project has traveled to Canada, England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Kosovo providing workshops, exhibitions, performances and artists' talks. Combat Paper is made possible through the collaborative effort of artists, veterans, volunteers, colleges and universities, art collectors, cultural foundations, art spaces, military hospitals and installations.
Through ongoing participation in the papermaking process, we are broadening the traditional narrative surrounding the military experience and warfare. The work also generates a much-needed conversation between veterans and civilians regarding our collective responsibilities and shared understanding in war.
The story of the fiber, the blood, sweat and tears, the months of hardship and brutal violence are held within those old uniforms. The uniforms often become inhabitants of closets or boxes in the attic. Reshaping that association of subordination, of warfare and service, into something collective and beautiful is our inspiration.|
|The Combat Paper Project is a collaboration initiated by Drew Matott and Drew Cameron, involving war veterans, activists and artists. More information about our beginnings or the papermaking process can be found in our basic papermaking primer.