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Military Veterans Will Create Art From Old Uniforms During 'Combat Paper Project' Workshop at Rutgers

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Rutgers University, Newark Public Library Collaboration

NEWARK, N.J., April 14, 2010

– They won’t be beating swords into plowshares, but next week military veterans will come to Rutgers University, Newark, to transform old uniforms and other clothing into art that reflects their feelings about their service experiences. The veterans will participate in papermaking workshops and a writing seminar at Rutgers to aid them in creating their art. Visitors to R-N can watch the final steps in the artmaking process in a tent pitched on the Norman Samuels Plaza from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. on April 21.

While the workshop itself is conducted in private, anyone may visit the Combat Paper tent on the Rutgers plaza between 12 -4 p.m. on April 20, to watch the cut-up uniforms beaten into rags, and return on April 21, from 10-4 p. m. on April 21, and watch the process of transforming uniforms into pulp, paper and art.

Their pieces will then be displayed temporarily at the Newark Public Library (NPL) on April 22, at 10 a.m. – 8:30 p.m., and April 23 from 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. NPL is currently hosting a larger exhibition of veterans’ art, the Combat Paper Project: Healing Through Art, through June 26. All of the MiCombat Paper Project (CPP), a internationally acclaimed therapeutic art program “by, for and about war veterans and the creative process.”

The project evolved from NPL’s plans to host a traveling exhibition of artwork produced through CPP, a Vermont-based initiative that helps military veterans of all wars transform their old uniforms, or any other “meaningful” items of clothing, into pulp, which is pounded into sheets of paper. The paper is then used to create art that helps the veterans “embrace their experiences as soldiers” while sharing their experiences with loved ones and the public, according to Drew Matott and Drew Cameron of CPP.

The veterans and their artwork reflect wide political views, the two explain. Many artists are neither anti-war nor anti-military but are simply having trouble re-integrating into civilian life because their wartime experiences affected them so drastically. The process of creating the art from clothing provides a closure for many vets, they note.

Matott, Cameron, and other veterans participating in the workshop will be speaking in a panel discussion at NPL on April 22 from 7-8 p.m. A reception in honor of the workshop at R-N and the exhibition at NPL precedes the panel discussion, from 6-7 p.m. Both events are co-sponsored by R-N and NPL.

The Combat Paper Project, http://www.combatpaper.org/index.html, is an ongoing, international collaboration initiated by Drew Matott and Drew Cameron, involving war veterans, activists and artists. Combat Paper is a project by, for and about war veterans and the creative process. 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.

MEMBERS OF THE MEDIA: For more information about the paper-making demonstration, please contact Carla Capizzi, 973/353-5263, email: capizzi@rutgers.edu