Creative Conversations: Uniting Veterans and the Community Through the Arts

Combat veterans' art

Warriors Arts Alliance and VSA Missouri are excited to team up for Creative Conversations: Uniting Veterans and the Community Through the Arts. A weekend packed with the exchange of ideas, experience and art making!

Drew Cameron, co-founder of the Combat Paper Project, and Yvette Pino, founder of the Veteran Print Project, both veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom, will facilitate three days of workshops exposing veterans to the power of papermaking and printmaking.

Combat Paper will lead veterans and their families in the dismantling of their uniforms and transforming them from fatigues to handmade paper. In Cameron’s words:

The story of the fiber, the blood, sweat and tears, the months of hardship and brutal violence are held within those old uniforms. The uniforms often become inhabitants of closets or boxes in the attic. Reshaping that association of subordination, of warfare and service, into something collective and beautiful is our inspiration.

Combat Paper has created hundreds of pieces of art, chapbooks and has led many other workshops across the U.S. and the U.K.

Veteran Print Project will work with veterans and their families through the process of telling their stories and working with the printmaking medium to create imagery that reflects their experiences. This will be an intimate exchange between artists, family members and veterans that honors the power of re-telling one’s story. In Yvette’s words:

We are seeking out the stories to visualize the history of our veterans. Sometimes we have to see it to believe it. We cannot aim to tell everyone’s story at once; but the few the come forward and speak up first, will prompt others to have the courage to stand up and claim their part of history.

Veterans are encouraged to bring their old combat uniforms or other articles significant to their service to add to the paper production. Community members may participate by bringing articles of clothing or memorabilia symbolizing their own stories to combine with the veterans' uniforms to enhance the collaborative experience and create "veteran community paper." Paper created during the three-day workshops will be used for Missouri veterans and their family members to compose writing or artwork for inclusion in an anthology.

In addition to the workshops, the national StoryCorps Military Initiatives will be recording conversations with post-9/11 veterans and their recording partners on April 3 and 4 at the Regional Arts Commission and April 5 at the University of Missouri-St. Louis’ new Veterans Center. Interviews are recorded on CDs and will be archived in the Library of Congress and aired on NPR. Appointments are necessary for these interviews and may be scheduled by emailing warriorsarts@gmail.com.

Our stories are as individual as our fingerprints, but they cement us in our relationships, our families, our communities and our world,” said Warriors Arts Director Deborah Marshall. “These opportunities for creative expression serve as keys to open the doors to additional conversations and understanding between veterans, families, artists and members of the community-at-large.

Support in part provided by
Regional Arts Commission, Missouri Humanities Council,
Arts and Education Council, Missouri Arts Council,
University of Missouri-St. Louis Veterans Center,
St. Louis Community College Veterans Affairs,
and VA St. Louis Healthcare Systems

Where: 
Regional Arts Commission
When: 
Apr 4 2013 to Apr 6 2013