Combat Paper Project

Location:  San Francisco, CA
United States
Project Description: 

Combat Paper Project uses artistic innovation to acknowledge the weight military uniforms carry. Instead of leaving uniforms—canvases of a different kind already covered in symbolism—to hang and gather dust at the back of a storage room, the project facilitates tearing, processing, and transforming uniforms into actual paper for artists to project their emotions. Former U.S. Army service member and Iraq war veteran Drew Cameron co-founded Combat Paper Project in 2007 with activist- artist Drew Matott to use a personal creative interest as a means to allow others to express and negotiate the effects of the military experience.

Veterans participate in a five-day workshop learning to remake their uniforms into pulp and then form sheets of paper to be used as personal journals, canvases for silk screening or painting, or other forms of visual storytelling. The workshops are not exclusive to veterans—their family members, as well as families of soldiers who have been killed in war and other civilians are all invited to collaborate. Combat Paper workshops feature processes historically rooted in the traditions of hand papermaking.

Workshops are led by experienced facilitators, often hosted by academic institutions and community art centers. “Combat papermakers” work from the inside out, attempting to reconcile personal issues from their combat experience through art before moving on to work with a broader focus that bridges gaps of knowledge and communication between civilian and veteran communities. The works created in and inspired by these workshops have been powerful tools for conversation and expression, and the pieces have found homes in gallery showcases and installations across the country. Combat Paper has been exhibited and archived in shows and special collections across the world. The results of Combat Paper projects show it is possible to transfer and process existing emotions into a new dialogue while creating an entirely new product from an existing item.