From a soldier’s uniform to a family tablecloth, every swatch has a story to tell.

The Peace Paper Project helps participants tell their stories by bringing the age-old art of making paper by hand to communities around the world, Drew Matott, project co-founder, said.

This process, which involves taking personally significant pieces of fabric and turning them into works of art, is a therapeutic activity.

The project came to Gainesville this week to share the practice with Shands at UF’s Arts in Medicine program community, veterans and students. The project is the hospital’s kick-off event for National Arts and Health Month, said Kris Sullivan, administrative coordinator for the arts in medicine program.

Project co-founders Matott, 35, and Margaret Mahan, 24, held workshops this week for patients of Malcom Randall Veterans Affairs and the Shands at UF Arts in Medicine program.

Gainesville artist Amy Richard, 50, worked with the Shands program to introduce the Peace Paper Project to the city. She said she hopes the project will continue here, particularly in the Arts in Medicine program.

Since its start in 2011, the co-founders have brought the project to various groups, including juvenile delinquents, cancer survivors, and victims of domestic and sexual violence. Sometimes, the people that participate keep the project going after they leave.

“Not only are we getting people to create in this workshop,” Mahan said, “we’re getting them actually engaged in ongoing expression.”

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