Drew Matott has always been committed to providing veterans with a process that connects them with their resources, with each other, and with the communities they have served. Veteran Paper Workshop provides veterans with a platform to share their stories.
Since 2011, VPW has operated internationally in universities, foundations, hospitals, art centers, shelters, and community centers in order to deliver a creative skill-set with the potential for enriching veterans' experiences of living their lives outside of the military.
Participants are invited to reconstitute their military uniforms into paper. Like the material itself, this process means something unique to each participant.
It is often the case that an abundance of unserviceable uniforms are donated for these workshops, which enables people who no longer have their uniforms to make paper. These donated uniforms are sorted by branch of service and pulped separately.
This allows veterans to begin the process by working directly with pulps to which they feel connected. Throughout the course of the workshop, new techniques of creative sheet formation are introduced and individuals become interested in combining pulps to develop unique compositions.
We encourage veteran organizations to solicit text and images from veteran participants in advance, so that they can create personalized pulp prints on paper made from their own uniforms during the workshops.
This allows for an immediate connection between veteran and paper, between paper and print. The final product is emblematic of the individual visually and materially.
Just as we offer donated uniforms as a fiber source, we provide prepared silk screens for pulp printing as text and image sources for all of our veterans.
Some of the most important work of Veteran Paper Workshop takes place after the papermaking. Our collaborators utilize the paper for weeks to come, building upon these meaningful substrates with various expressive processes.
At the Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital in Hines, Illinois, Art Therapist Erin Mooney LPCA guides her participants in Mandala making and other meditative exercises, using the paper they have created during Veteran Paper Workshop.
It is part of Drew Matott's artistic mission to expose care providers to hand papermaking processes, so they may incorporate these techniques into their creative arts and healing practices with veterans. We carry out this intention by working directly with VA hospitals, health and rehabilitation centers, and licensed professionals dedicated to improving the physical and mental health of veterans.
In the spirit of working on both healing and advocacy levels, Veteran Paper Workshop operates on college campuses to promote student veteran organizations. Setting up shop in public areas on campus, Peace Paper gives student veterans a pulpy platform from which they can connect with their campus community.
The sight and sound of the hollander beater pulping uniforms can draw a crowd, and we utilize this process to connect student veterans with their advocates and peers on campus as a way of building a support network and educating student veterans about their resources.
One of our traditions in working with veterans of any generation is creating a ledger for each group we reach. The pages of the ledger are made of uniforms from each branch of service, and strips of the cloth that have gone into the paper are sewn into the binding. It is an immense honor to be able share these large books with veteran organizations.
The paper is made with great care to serve as a canvas for veterans to share their names, stories, and words of encouragement for their peers and future bearers of this book. Thus, the ledger becomes a cultural record for veteran organizations, to preserve and pass on the legacy of their service in the military as well as their service as civilians when they come home.
Veteran Paper Workshop is a collaboration between Veteran Student Associations, VFW's, Hines VA and Veteran Shelters throughout the United States of America. For inquiries regarding uniform donations or involvement in Veteran Paper Workshop, contact Drew Matott firstname.lastname@example.org.