A tribute to peace: ‘Peace Paper Project’ encourages archiving personal history through paper-making

Paper-making acts as a way to cope with tragedy and celebrate resilience. (Photo by Elle Cox ’21).

Art has been used as a therapeutic practice for centuries. From using art to reconcile with war to creating masterpieces based on historical tragedies, the act of creating changes the way one copes with experience. The “Peace Paper Project” believes in this opportunity to create beauty from the horrific; magic, the pain.

Peace Paper Project is a group traveling around the world converting ordinary people into peacemakers through paper-making. The group visited the college on Monday to describe their organization and the paper-making process.

Using personal textiles and iconography, the group members turn materials into pulp and send the pulp through a pressing machine, creating beautiful sheets of handmade paper. One project described as “Combat Paper” allowed veterans to bring their army uniforms and cut them into strips. Each piece of paper is given to the creators to write poetry on, paint on or print on. Each piece is unique and given back to the creator for ownership, with only the mishaps being used in an archival folder to be sent to collections around the world.

More projects centered around hospital settings, terrorist tragedies and sexual abuse. Each paper is embedded with the evidence of the event.

When you hold the handmade paper, you hold a record of emotion and personal history. This is what the Peace Paper Project hopes to achieve with even larger groups of people. The group encourages acts of peace amidst adversity.

To continue its efforts, the group traveled to Mumbai to support a group of women working on their own paper making project. With the help of the group, the women learned a faster, more efficient paper making procedure, which benefited them financially.

Paper making often goes overlooked. Allowing one to partake in an activity that so many of us never thought to appreciate gives many papermakers a sense of purpose. To look at one’s product and realize that it is the accumulation of your stories and your history, is one of the beautiful aspects of art.

Peace Paper Project will continue to be a part of new stories and connect people with a common background, encouraging the creation and appreciation of art along the way.

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