Cedar Crest College newspaper since 1923
By Abigail Ormiston, Copy Editor
Students from all different majors gathered around the back of the Canova Commons to watch as Drew Matott peddled a stationary bike and Margaret Mahan spoke about the clothes that they used to make pulp that soon would turn into pieces of paper.
Mahan, 26, said she was involved with another project when she noticed that paper making was a tool for self expression.
In 2011, Matott and Mahan created the Peace Paper Project, which came to campus on March 24 through March 26, 2015.
“Making paper is a good way to express yourself and, in most cases, it has been therapeutic,” said Mahan.
Taylor Young, sophomore art major, said she had a lot of fun making paper because it helped her relax while passing through her busy day.
“As an art major, I am required to do certain art projects throughout the semester, so doing something for fun made me relax and helped my day go a little smoother,” Young explained.
But self expression and a form of art therapy isn’t the only goal Mahan has.
“Peace Paper Project has many different programs within it. One of my favorite is the Panty Pulping. We use unmentionables to stop the unmentionable. It is a project that shines light on sexual and domestic violence. It helps people become aware and feel better,” Mahan said.
She shared a story of a young woman who was at one of those sessions and later told her that she had been sexually assaulted and brought the panties she was wearing during the attack.
Mahan explained that “she said creating something beautiful out of a horrible experience helped her out greatly.”
Having something like this that is a form of art therapy is helpful because it gives people something to look forward to. “Paper as art therapy is important,” Mahan continued.
Mahan wanted programs like this and like Panty Pulp to bring a sense of community and safe space.
Art professor and Chair of Art Department Jill Odegaard said that is one of the reasons the Peace Paper Project came to Cedar Crest.
“I like the idea of community engagement through art.” Odegaard said. “The art department has been trying to get programs like this for a while, and we are continuing to work on getting more programs like this one.”
Mahan added that she hopes people felt some kind of empowerment from this project.
Some of the communities she has worked with expressed their gratitude for helping them feel a sense of empowerment.
“Some of the locations we have worked with felt so good with the program that we did that they bought equipment like ours so they could continue running a safe place for people to come and express themselves,” said Mahan.
She expressed that his project has also empowered herself through the journey that she has made with this project.
“I remember being so scared to speak to people when we first started, but, two years ago, Drew and I were at an art therapy conference and I was speaking in front of nearly 100 people or so and I just heard how different I sounded. I no longer sounded scared I spoke with energy and confidence. And it is because of this project,” Mahan said.
She hopes that those who came to the Peace Paper Project the few days that they were on campus feels they were benefited by it and expressed themselves or felt they were helped therapeutically.