Visual Arts

Art has therapeutic qualities. This organization uses it to tell veterans’ stories

Drew Matott, Director of the Peace Paper Projects inspects one of the silkscreens stencils produced by Miami-Dade County veterans in his class at the PAMM in Miami on Thursday, August 2, 2018
Drew Matott, Director of the Peace Paper Projects inspects one of the silkscreens stencils produced by Miami-Dade County veterans in his class at the PAMM in Miami on Thursday, August 2, 2018 cmguerrero@miamiherald.com

Art, creativity, and self-expression are all known to have healing powers. Mix that with views of Biscayne Bay, and your mind will be clear in no time. The Peace Paper Project, an international community-arts initiative, uses traditional papermaking as “trauma therapy, social engagement, and community activism,” according to www.peacepaperproject.org.

“The number of artists who have served in the armed forces is astronomical,” said Anthony Atwood, a veteran of the U.S. Navy. “It can be therapeutic.”

The Peace Paper Project came to the Perez Art Museum Miami on Aug. 2 to engage 16 veterans and active-duty service members in the art of papermaking. During the free workshop, veterans used traditional papermaking techniques to turn old military uniforms into paper.

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A Peace Paper Project workshop class at PAMM inviting Veterans to use traditional papermaking techniques from military uniforms on Thursday, August 2, 2018 C.M. GUERRERO cmguerrero@miamiherald.com

Drew Matott, a visiting artist at PAMM, is the director of the Peace Paper Project.

“It’s about integrating back into civilian life,” Matott said of the project. “It gives them a chance to record their story.”

For the first part of the day, museum visitors and the general public were invited to create sheets of paper for anyone who had served, Matott said. In total, they made several hundred sheets.

The workshop was set up on PAMM’s outdoor terrace overlooking the water. All participants were given tours of the museum before sitting down for the papermaking workshop.

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Drew Matott, right, Director of the Peace Paper Projects shows Torin Zielenski, left, retired from the U.S. Coast Guard one of the silkscreens produced by veterans in his class at the PAMM in Miami on Thursday, August 2, 2018 C.M. GUERRERO cmguerrero@miamiherald.com

Torin Zielenski, a veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard, plans to use the paper he makes as a card for his parents’ anniversary.

“I’m an open book to learn a craft that’s been around a lot longer than we have,” he said.

PAMM grants free admission to all active-duty military personnel, veterans, and their family members.

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