The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Public Program Recap: Student Lunch with Drew Cameron, Founder of the Combat Paper Project

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Recently, the Rockefeller Center hosted a Student Lunch with Drew Cameron, artist, veteran environmentalist, and co-founder of the Combat Paper Project, on Tuesday, January 27. The event is summarized below.

Drew Cameron has been using an ancient technique to transform military uniforms into pieces of art. Cameron, whose love for paperworks began as a teenager, served in the US Army from 2000 to 2006. Since then, he has united his passion for papermaking with insight from his military background, sharing stories in the form of visual art.

Drew Cameron discusses the Combat Paper Project at the Rockefeller Center. Photo by Rob Strong.

Cameron founded the Combat Paper Project in 2007 with Drew Matott. Based in San Francisco, the studio not only produces handmade prints, but also teaches and encourages others, both military and civilian, to do the same. The Combat Paper Project creates paper from military cloth, often directly from those who participate in the project. "To take a uniform and turn it into art is a really meaningful concept," Cameron says about his work, "It’s an artistic way of responding to the long history of militarism in the United States."

Caermon was invited to the Hopkins Center for the Arts at Dartmouth College to unite students, civilians, and military veterans to take part in the papermaking process. Additionally, his work will be exhibited along with the Kronos Quartet performance, Beyond Zero: 1914-1918, which will feature works from various composers to evoke the immense impact of World War I. At the Rockefeller Center, however, Drew Cameron engaged directly with students on their thoughts about the United States’ long military engagement in the Middle East. Several students commented that they felt that there was a sense of detachment of young people from war because it's just something they’ve been used to. "Just because you’re not in the military, doesn’t mean you don’t have a stake," one student remarked. Indeed, it is activists like Drew Cameron who have found an entrepreneurial and creative way to help others develop a greater understanding of important issues around them.

Students enjoy a lunch at the Rockefeller Center with Drew Cameron, an artist, veteran, and environmentalist. Photo by Rob Strong.

Drew Cameron came of age in Iowa City, IA, as an Air Force child moving around the country. He enlisted into the Army directly out of high school upon graduating in 2000, and served for four years on active duty as a field artillery soldier and a subsequent two years in the Vermont National Guard in medical administration. Cameron went to Iraq in 2003 as a part of the second wave of the invasion. Since then he has completed his BS in Forestry from the University of Vermont and transitioned into a paper and book artist based in San Francisco, CA. Cameron is a founding member of Warrior Writers, director of the Combat Paper Project, and continues to teach, practice and learn new forums for his craft of hand papermaking. His current and ongoing work with Combat Paper and as a partner in the Shotwell Paper Mill in San Francisco is practicing and teaching the art and craft of hand papermaking and encouraging others to do the same.

The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences