War Is Trauma is a portfolio of handmade prints produced by the Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative in collaboration with the Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW). This portfolio transpired out of a street poster project, from November 2010, which a number of Justseeds artists provided graphics for “Operation Recovery” - the IVAW campaign meant to stop the redeployment of traumatized soldiers. Posters were pasted in public, replacing many corporate advertisements, to focus public attention towards the issues not being discussed - GI Resistance, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), sexual assault of women in the military, and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). The action led to another collaboration between Justseeds and IVAW - an “Operation Recovery” booklet published by Printed Matter in NYC and currently– the War is Trauma print portfolio. For this project over 30 artists from Justseeds, IVAW, and their allies have each created a print that addresses “Operation Recovery,” its larger goals of supporting GI resistance, a GI’s right to heal, challenging the culture of militarism in the US, and ending the wars overseas and the economic war at home. A total of 130 portfolios have been created, that equals 130 exhibitions as a starting point. Exhibitions that bring different people together – veterans, civilians, refugees from Iraq and Afghanistan, and others to dialogue on issues that matter.
The prints are housed within a handmade paper cover from the Combat Paper Project – paper whose source material derives from military uniforms that veterans have cut into small piece, mixed with water, and pulped into paper as part of the healing process. Drew Cameron of the CPP writes, “The batch that I made for the portfolio is mostly created from Army Combat Uniforms that we were worn with the Stryker battalions out of Fort Lewis, WA. These are the same guys who rolled out of Iraq early back in July 2010. I also added Egyptian cotton to strengthen it. I like to imagine that the mill workers who made the cloth I used were the same one’s rising up last spring.”