The Combat Paper Project utilizes art making workshops to assist veterans in reconciling and sharing their personal experiences as well as broadening the traditional narrative surrounding service and the military culture.
Through papermaking workshops veterans use their uniforms worn in combat to create cathartic works of art. The uniforms are cut up, beaten into a pulp 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 in the military.
The Combat Paper Project is based out of art studios throughout the United States and has traveled to Canada and the United Kingdom, providing veterans workshops, exhibitions, performances and artists’ talks. This project is made possible by a multifaceted collaboration between artists, art collectors, academic institutions and veterans.
Through ongoing participation in the papermaking process, combat papermakers are attempting to progress from creating works specific to their military experiences to expressing a broader vision on militarism and society. The work reflects both the anger of the past and hope for the future. Through this collaboration between civilians and veterans, a much-needed conversation is generated regarding our responsibilities to the returned veteran and an understanding of the dehumanizing effects of warfare.
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.