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Rutgers University, Newark Public Library, Military Veterans Come Together For ‘Combat Paper Project’

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(NEWARK, N.J., March 15, 2010) – They won’t be beating swords into plowshares, but next month 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.

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 hosting a larger exhibition of veterans’ art,  the Combat Paper Project: Healing Through Art,  from April 1-June 26.  All of the activities are the result of a collaboration between Rutgers in Newark (R-N), the NPL and the Combat Paper Project (CPP), a internationally acclaimed therapeutic art program “by, for and about war veterans and the creative process.”

Veterans who want to participate in the project must register; contact Gerald Massenburg, geraldm@andromeda.rutgers.edu,  973/353-5541; the deadline is April 12.

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.

The NPL and Rutgers are proud to be teaming up to provide a program that will provide a healing experience for the veterans, say Massenburg and NPL Librarian Jared Ash.  Ash had already arranged for the exhibition to be at the library, and was also planning to host CPP-led workshops, when he learned that Rutgers-Newark had recently established a Student Veterans Organization.  He quickly reached out and as a result, Rutgers will host the free papermaking and writing workshops on April 19-21 for 15 veterans — from the campus  as well as any veterans in the surrounding area who register. 

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, and 10-4 p. m. on April 21, and watch Matott, Cameron, and other veterans demonstrate the process of transforming uniforms into pulp, paper and art.   

 Matott, Cameron, and other veterans participating in the workshop will be speaking in a panel discussion at NPL on April 21 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. The Combat Paper Project is based in Vermont, with tours around the world making and discussing this powerful artwork. In the United States the group has focused on making paper with veterans who have returned from wars; while overseas they have focused on working in areas of recent conflict, bringing together members of opposing sides to embark on a journey of understanding and healing.

 MEMBERS OF THE MEDIA: For more information, please contact Carla Capizzi, 973/353-5263, email: capizzi@rutgers.edu, or Jared Ash, 973/733-7782, jash@npl.org .

Author: 
Carla Capizzi