Combat Paper Workshop Is Centerpiece of Conference and Art Exhibit at Allegheny College

Sept. 17, 2014 – A Combat Paper workshop, in which veterans and other workshop participants reclaim their uniforms to collaboratively create works of art, will be the centerpiece of a conference and art exhibit, “Word Made Flesh,” at Allegheny College Sept. 29 through Oct. 4.

Artist Nathan Lewis will lead workshop participants in the weeklong papermaking and bookmaking workshop in which uniforms and other cotton clothing of personal significance such as work uniforms are cut up, beaten into pulp and formed into sheets of paper. Participants will then create artwork and/or write stories on the paper as a healing process to deal with traumatic events in their lives. The resulting pieces will be exhibited in the Allegheny College art galleries in conjunction with artworks made by national and international artists on sheets of combat paper.

The workshop, which will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 29 through Oct. 3 in the Doane Hall of Art, will also include a photo booth where military service members and/or their stand-ins can have their photos taken for display in the gallery show.

The interdisciplinary conference with Combat Paper will bring together visiting scholars, students, faculty and members of the Meadville community to explore the aftermath of war and other traumatic events through critical and creative presentations.

The schedule includes:

• Monday, Sept. 29: Beth McCoy, Distinguished Teaching Professor at the State University of New York, Geneseo, will speak on “Gulf Wars and Warriors at the Post Katrina Crossroads” at noon in Campus Center 301. At 7 p.m. in the Vukovich Center for Communication Arts, Iraqi War veteran Brian Castner, author of “The Long Walk: A Story of War and the Life That Follows,” will give the keynote address, followed by a performance by Exit 12 Dance Company, which advances the idea that art heals.

• Tuesday, Sept. 30: A panel discussion on “Peace, War, Violence and Moral Psychology” will feature Lydia Eckstein Jackson, who teaches psychology at the college; licensed psychologists Tony and Marsha Pedone; and John Christie-Searles, who teaches political science at Allegheny. The discussion will begin at 7 p.m. in Campus Center 301.

• Wednesday, Oct. 1: Two events will run concurrently at 6:30 p.m. A screening of the documentary “The Invisible War” — facilitated by Barbara Shaw, who teaches women’s studies at Allegheny, and Bruce Harlan, executive director of Meadville Women’s Services — will be held in Quigley Hall auditorium. “The Healing Arts,” a panel discussion on war, trauma and the arts, will be held in Ford Chapel. Combat Paper artist Nathan Lewis and Eleanor Weisman, director of the Dance and Movement Studies program at Allegheny, will lead the discussion.

• Thursday, Oct. 2: “Historical Trauma, Commemoration, Absence,” a panel discussion on faith and religion, will be led at 6 p.m. in Ford Chapel by Allegheny College chaplain Jane Ellen Nickell and Eric Boynton, who teaches philosophy and religious studies at the college. At 7 p.m. the community is invited to gather for an interfaith vigil in Ford Chapel.

• Friday, Oct. 3: The panel discussion “Outside the Wire: The Military/Civilian Divide” will begin at noon in the Tippie Alumni Center. Panelists include historian and Allegheny professor Franklin Forts; Cheryl Hatch, a photojournalist and professor of Journalism in the Public Interest; and Larry James, Vietnam veteran and author of “Unfortunate Sons.”

• Saturday, Oct. 4: The week’s events will conclude from 5 to 7 p.m. in the art galleries with the opening of the Combat Paper exhibit. Eleanor Weisman and Allegheny students will present a dance performance, and Allegheny voice instructor Carol Niblock and students will perform a music recital.

All events are free and open to the community, and registration is not required. For more information about the Combat Paper conference and art exhibit, email Alexis Hart at or Steve Prince at

image © Andrew Stanbridge