Oakland, CA–September 15, 2008. Mills College's Book Art Program will host the first Combat Paper Project at a Bay Area university, bringing local war veterans to participate in a national peace art project from Oct. 13–15.
For three days, a dozen war veterans will work with members of Iraq Veterans Against the War and four visiting artists in a transformative process of making paper from their war uniforms. Through cutting, cooking, beating, and pulping their uniforms to form sheets of paper, "the veterans reclaim their uniform as art and begin to reconcile their experiences as soldiers in war," said Drew Matott, co-founder of the Vermont-based Combat Paper Project.
The veterans will then use the paper to create prints and handmade books from their own poetry and writings. Their works will be shared in a public reading on Oct. 14 from 5:30–7:00 pm as part of the Mills College Contemporary Writers' Series. (More information at www.mills.edu/english) Audience members are invited to attend and cut a uniform from a soldier's body while he discusses social responsibility in time of war.
"Combat Paper has captured the collective imagination of the American and European book art community in ways that almost no other project has in many years," said Kathleen Walkup, director of the Book Art Program at Mills College. "This event will give our students the opportunity to experience art and action that can go hand in hand to touch many diverse lives."
Walkup recently curated Mutanabbi Street Starts Here, a series of Iraq poetry broadsides that was exhibited at various venues, including the San Francisco Center for the Book. Works from previous Combat Paper Project events are in several permanent collections, including the Library of Congress.
The Combat Paper Project only pulps uniforms from inactive duty and discharged veterans whose uniforms are no longer the property of the military. "The project was created as a means of dealing with the solders' war experiences," said Matott. "It offers hope and support to those who are currently involved in combat, and an outlet for them to express their experiences and reclaim their lives when they return home."
The Mills College Book Art Program is one of the oldest and most comprehensive undergraduate book art programs in the country, where students study the form and content of books. The program has recently announced the first MFA degree in book art and creative writing in the nation. The program will host an open house on Oct. 14 from 4:30–5:30 pm.
Nestled in the foothills of Oakland, California, Mills College is a nationally renowned, independent liberal arts college offering a dynamic progressive education that fosters leadership, social responsibility, and creativity to approximately 950 undergraduate women and 500 graduate women and men. Since 2000, applications to Mills College have more than doubled. The College is named one of the top colleges in the West by U.S. News & World Report, one of the Best 368 Colleges by the Princeton Review, and ranks 75th among America's best colleges by Forbes.com. Visit us at www.mills.edu.
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