A Forum for Opinions on News, Politics, and Life
May 17th, 2012
By Jan Barry
About 100 people turned out for a Saturday night event in April that offered no booze, dancing, live music or political speeches. The attraction was a display of art created from military uniforms and war memories.
The event—called Healing from War Through the Arts, at the Puffin Cultural Forum in Teaneck, NJ—featured art and writings developed in Combat Paper and Warrior Writer workshops. As one of the curators, I took the liberty of creating a photo book of scenes at this remarkable gathering:
“Powerful. The one word that comes to mind after Saturday’s Exhibition and performance at The Puffin Cultural Forum in Teaneck. Simply Powerful,” Dave Keefe, director of the Combat Paper NJ program, wrote in a Facebook message. “Thank you to all that attended. We have something to say. And when we step out on that scary bridge to express everything inside…you meet us half way. Thank you.”
This week, Keefe and other Puffin participants and fellow artists are conducting workshops and presentations in Washington, DC and vicinity at a national event called Arts, Military and Healing.
On April 30, the New Jersey Combat Paper program was featured in a PBS Newshour report. Here’s what Morgan Till, one of the PBS journalists who visited a Combat Paper workshop at the Printmaking Center of NJ, wrote on a blog: “The veterans gathered around the cutting table, shredding uniforms and letting the stories flow. An unburdening that is itself a catharsis many have sought and, before now, not found.”
The next step, Till wrote, “is where the veteran can tell their stories through art and poetry. The paper provides the platform, the larger community of veterans provides the confidence and support to undergo this transformation.”
The weekend after the PBS Newshour report, a small crowd of people from a variety of backgrounds showed up at the Printmaking Center in Branchburg, NJ to help cut up uniforms to be turned into paper and otherwise aid the Combat Paper program. Family members and friends of veterans involved in the program dropped by.
Plans were discussed about future workshops, art exhibitions, readings and fund-raisers. These include the events this week in Washington, a Warrior Writers reading this Saturday at the Nuyorican Poets Café in New York City, a Combat Paper art display at Teaneck, NJ’s Memorial Day festival, a poetry reading and fund-raiser at the Newark Public Library on June 9, and a We R One-sponsored motorcycle run fund-raiser in central New Jersey on June 23.
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(This article was also posted at EarthAirWater.)
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