Art That Matters, Pt. 1

“The Combat Paper Project is a collaboration initiated by Drew Matott and Drew Cameron, involving war veterans, activists and artists.”

That humble and straightforward description barely scratches the surface of the incredible project these two have planted.  I had the pleasure of meeting Drew Matott today, as he’s in town for a short stint at WNYBAC and he gave a talk at UB. Seeing his presentation after hearing about the work and spending some time with him at dinner, I was struck by the ease with which he approaches everything he does. And what he and the other Drew do is help the world with art. For such a laid back guy, that’s pretty heavy.

In a nutshell, they get groups of vets together to turn their old uniforms into paper and then journals. Literally. In workshops that are part community activism, part art therapy, they cut these uinforms into tiny bits and make paper with the pulp. This paper is then used to do prints, make journals, and serve as visual and emotional catharsis for all sorts of men and women who have seen combat. The different permutations of this basic idea and the scope of what they have accomplished with it is too vast for any type of listing here. I encourage you all to check out their site and see just what it is they do. I think it’s the first time I’ve seen activist art employed so effectively.

I’m going to try to swing some opportunities their way, though they hardly need my help. This is a bona fide phenomenon they have created and it would just be nice to be a small part of it. If you know any DAVs who might be into it, please pass it on. Here’s hoping more visual thinkers engage our era in such an intriguing way. I think we’ve navel gazed long enough.


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