We ignite awareness of critical issues and encourage public involvement by supporting socially engaged artists and projects, with a focus on participatory art, to connect and build communities and amplify marginalized voices.
- Support artists and art projects through operations and program logistics, capacity-building, fundraising support, networking and new partnerships, shared resources, physical space, mobile and participatory workshop development, connective events, and happenings
- Build and connect communities through collaborative, participatory making
- Foster a culture of participation by engaging the public through action
- Sustain a Think Tank environment to establish new connections, stay in front of contemporary discourse, engage new ideas and people, and embrace change
- Conduct Research and share our findings on connective practice, community building, and social change through participation and 'making'
- Make and Show Art; Everything is through making, doing, and telling
Frontline Arts invites artists (individuals, collectives, or organizations) to submit a project proposal that works towards community goals, dialogue, increased awareness on social and ecological issues, and actionable steps for communities to engage with the project and respond to the social issue.
Our mission is not for veteran artists or veteran art projects alone. We seek to connect many different communities together. Combat Paper NJ's old mission is a role model for art-making as community and is a successful social arts business model.
The Frontline Arts connective social arts practice can redefine safe space, promote trans-disciplinary collaboration, spark imagination, create aesthetic, amplify marginalized voices, generate dialogue, and connect communities for a better world.
Frontline Arts was co-founded by David Keefe, Kevin Basl, Michael Callahan, Saydi Callahan Keefe, Eli Wright, Manda Gorsegner, Donna Bassin and Nebojsa Zlatanovic. The idea was to take some of the successful tools learned from Combat Paper NJ (CPNJ) and to adapt them to encourage and support other socially engaged artists and projects, working to connect new communities.
From 2011-2015, CPNJ was a program of the Printmaking Center of New Jersey, directed by David Keefe and Eli Wright. CPNJ was built out of the original project; Combat Paper. Combat Paper was founded in 2007 by Drew Cameron, traveled the whole country teaching veterans how to make paper from uniforms, then in 2011 built in NJ as Combat Paper NJ. From the start, CPNJ connected the veteran and non-veteran through participatory art making, and community-building programming. CPNJ simultaneously facilitated free workshops at the Printmaking Center of NJ and traveled all over the North East conducting transformative paper-making workshops. This community-based art practice proved as a powerful act of sparking dialogue between different communities. A new community of artists, veterans, and non-veterans grew out of this activism, and concurrently established CPNJ as a pillar of community-based art.
In May of 2014, after a pop-up workshop and exhibition in downtown Somerville NJ, (thanks to a generous award from Impact 100 Garden State) the CPNJ instructors discussed how participatory and community-based art challenges what we know of art-making and felt to be “on the frontlines of art making.” This was the feeling of creating a happening around a contemporary social issue, sharing stories, making art, and encouraging public participation. This was the feeling of being on the frontlines; the frontlines of social issues; the frontlines of art making.
This feeling was the inspiration to take CPNJ’s fundamental idea of engaging and connecting communities through participatory art making, and begin connecting it to other artists engaged in contemporary social issues. Frontline Arts was born.
Frontline Arts was incorporated in August 2015, and for two years fiscally sponsored by the Printmaking Center of New Jersey. In the Fall of 2017, Frontline Arts and the Printmaking Center of New Jersey re-structured as one entity called "Frontline Arts."
The new Frontline Arts has assumed Combat Paper NJ's old mission and formed a new papermaking project by veterans as its flagship art project. This has built the foundation for its mission, core values, infrastructure, and community art practice. This new direction will support socially engaged artists and art projects to mobilize on the frontlines of art making, ignite awareness and participation, and ultimately connect communities to one another.