Vet Arts Profiled on PBS

May 2nd, 2012

By Jan Barry

Combat ArtPBS Newshour ran an unusual program the other night, providing an insightful look at the Combat Paper Project that I’ve been working with for some time.  “Finally tonight, transforming the wardrobe of war into art,” PBS Newshour anchor Gwen Ifill said in introducing this report aired on April 30.

“In 2007, a returning Iraq war veteran trying to make sense of his experience cut up his battle dress uniform and, together with a friend, made paper from the fibers. The Combat Paper Project was born. Five years later, in New Jersey, the project has launched a permanent workshop for veterans hoping to reconcile the good and bad of lives spent at war,” Ifill continued. “Here are four of them. Here are their stories…”

Besides profiling participants in weekly workshops hosted by the Printmaking Center of New Jersey, the news program added a slide show of vets’ art created in this project, blogs by PBS staffers Morgan Till and Teresa Gorman on various aspects of what they call “art therapy programs for veterans” and a creative way for war-singed veterans to “tell their stories through art and poetry,” a video tutorial on how vets turn old uniforms into art, and a forum for viewers to share their thoughts and experiences.

In an Art Beat blog titled “Veterans Changing the Arts,” Teresa Gorman placed the Combat Paper workshops in New Jersey into a larger, national context.

“The increase in the number of professional artists with military experience and therapy programs related to military service has been so pronounced that a new collaboration called Arts, Military and Healing states that veterans are changing the arts in America. The collaboration is a week-long event in May that will bring artists, art institutions and art therapists together with service members and veterans,” she wrote.

Combat Paper coordinators Drew Cameron, David Keefe and Eli Wright will be providing workshops at the Arts, Military and Healing event in Washington, DC on May 13-18, along with Warrior Writers director Lovella Calica. The Combat Paper Project grew out of Warrior Writers workshops and often works together in providing programs in various cities, on college campuses and at arts institutions, around the U.S.

Here are hot links to the various segments of the PBS report:

Art of War: Veterans Shred Uniforms to Create ‘Combat Paper’ Artwork

Combat Paper: Veterans Battle War’s Demons With Paper-Making

Veterans Changing the Arts: Share Your Story

Making Your Own ‘Combat Paper’: A Step-by-Step Tutorial

Photo Essay: Combat Paper: Veterans Repurpose Uniforms Into Art

(This article was also posted at EarthAirWater.)


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Categories: Arts, Military, News | Comments (2) | Home

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2 Responses to “Vet Arts Profiled on PBS”



  1. Tom Carter |

    Jan, interesting article. It’s nice to see people finding creative ways to exorcise their demons. I’ve got some old BDUs in a box somewhere…I’ll contribute them next time I see you.

    Strange inset still photo in the video at the first link — you as a mere babe of 20 standing with some goofy looking guy in the wilds of Alabama….


  2. Jan |

    I don’t have stitch of military gear left around, so thanks for the old field uniforms…and thanks for the photo from the olden days…couldn’t find much else from those days where I was in uniform…now I could turn those threads into a book!


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