Ancient Papermaking: A Vehicle for Personal Expression
By Whitney Frasier
The campus community at California State University San Marcos (CSUSM) wrapped up the What Gives Your Life Meaning? campaign with a three-day, papermaking activity known as The Peace Paper Project. The event was held in partnership with the Veterans Center.
Papermaking has been traced back for centuries and originated from the practice of pounding and stirring rags in water. The Peace Paper Project has brought the ancient method back from them past and into local communities as part of an initiative that utilizes traditional papermaking as a form of trauma therapy, social engagement and community activism.
“The campus community is made up of thousands of individuals each with a unique story,” said Sharon Hamill, faculty director of the CSU Institute for Palliative Care at CSUSM. “In a world that is time pressured and action-oriented, opportunities to reflect and identify meaning in what we do are few and far between. We all benefit – physically and mentally – from connecting to our worlds in a way that minimizes stress and increases our abilities to recognize and celebrate our strengths and the things in our lives that we are thankful for.”
Over the duration of the event, hundreds of participants stopped by and brought in their own fabric to transform into paper. A portable studio equipped with a bike-powered machine turned the fabric into pulp, which was later reformed into customized sheets of paper. Participants could write, draw or imprint symbols on the paper to tell their individual stories.
The Peace Paper Project uses the ancient tradition of hand papermaking as an outlet for personal expression and cultural change, providing a unique opportunity for both military and non-military students on campus to create art that is a reflection of who they are.
“By providing these events, we encourage students, staff and faculty to take their education beyond the classroom and connect with people they may never see in a class,” said Hamill. “The emphasis on positive activities that encourage free expression and connection to others through our own personal stories helps to create a more positive, civil, and supportive campus environment.”
More information about the Peace Paper Project can be found by visiting their website.