Frontline Paper is a mobile, national veterans’ papermaking program that connects communities and teaches veterans the art of making handmade paper from military uniforms as a transformational and socially engaging way to share their stories with each other and with the public. The sheets of paper that were on view were made by many veterans in workshops offered by Frontline Paper, as well as veteran facilitators at Frontline Arts in Branchburg, NJ, and a papermaking studio run by veteran artists in Trumansburg, NY.
The handmade paper workshops create a platform for veterans and non-veterans to come together and share stories, providing a new language, and much needed discourse between veterans and society. In casual drop-in sessions, on college campuses, in community centers, at pop-up street corner workshops, and at VA and military hospitals, Frontline Paper artists teach the art of papermaking and printmaking to veterans of all service eras.
The exhibition was accompanied by a video with excerpts from writer-Director Donna Bassin’s award-winning documentary The Mourning After (2015-16) featuring poet veterans Eli Wright and Maurice DeCaul. As Bassin notes, “One doesn’t heal from war; one learns to surrender to its complicated traumatic impact. As veterans struggle with their losses, they have found ways to address and work through the moral injury and PTS with which they contend. They witness their losses via engagement in community activism, memorializing rituals, and acts of artistic and poetic creation.”
This exhibition was curated by artist, activist, and educator David Keefe, co-founder of Frontline Arts and President of the Board of Trustees, with Donna Bassin. She is a fine art photographer, clinical psychologist/psychoanalyst, and award-winning documentary filmmaker. They have worked with MAM’s curatorial department staff, especially Osanna Urbay, Registrar, Bruce Rainier, Preparator, and Gail Stavitsky, Chief Curator.
Model created by Robert Pyzocha, Photographs by Steve Hellerstein