Snail Mail Art Invitational 2020
One of the things I used to live for when I was a preteen was getting penpal letters in the mail. (I know, I'm probably giving away my age, but whatev's!)
There would be mail exchanges from kids all across the globe, and throughout the U.S., often with instructions on places to send letters or "slam books" (homemade mini-books that could fit in an envelope, that each recipient would decorate a page on and send to the next person in the circle, until you got a full book back). Sending away a project, letter, or a couple of dollars would result in showers of stickers, missives from other preteens in all corners of the world, and.. for a few lucky people... some genuinely lifetime friendships.
Now that I'm an adult, I notice that the whole pastime of letter-writing and sending goodies in the mail seems to have taken a big downturn. Many of us spend a lot of time fretting over what someone said on social media, but not nearly the same amount of time composing a constructive, thought out message.
Writing by hand, crafting a treasure for those you care about, forces one to slow down- to consider carefully the next word or phrase committed to indelible ink, the topics that are most vital when the letter or package will take a week or more to arrive... To really consider the person who will receive your message.
Now that the very mechanism itself that we rely on to get us those special messages- the United States Post Office- is this year on the brink of collapsing (some say it could run out of funds and shut down as early as this July- how devastating would that be for how many workers and people who depend on the mail?)... I think it'd be a GREAT time to revive the gentle art of creative correspondence.
As far as fine art and craft goes, this has already been a thing. The historical movement Fluxus
"...WAS an international, interdisciplinary community of artists, composers, designers and poets during the 1960s and 1970s who engaged in experimental art performances which emphasized the artistic process over the finished product. Fluxus is known for experimental contributions to different artistic media and disciplines and for generating new art forms" -Wikipedia
The various forms of "Fluxus groups" did work in video, performance, and- of course- a thing they called Mail Art.
The version of which I'm familiar involves an ongoing correspondence between artists, in which they expressed themselves by manipulating the contents of a mailing, and/or the envelope it comes in. During my college years, I wrote to one of the original Fluxus artists and received a piece of Mail Art back! Definitely one for the collection.
These days, the concept of Mail Art derived from the original "process oriented" focus, lives on with the benefit of social media. You can visit groups such as the International Union of Mail Artists, MailArt and Fluxus Books.
You can also go online to join groups that trade Artists Trading Cards, donate craft items such as quilts or blankets to those in need, and more.
In the spirit of, not only keeping constructively occupied and creatively focused during the rest of 2020- but also to help our poor USPS to keep on truckin'... I am extending a Snail Mail Art Invitational to you all.
For the remainder of this year- if you want to send me a letter, creative piece of Mail Art, or other crafty item through the mail, and provide me a LEGIBLE return address, I will be happy to send you something back. Feel free to come up with your own mail-related creative projects as well!
Visit the CONTACT Page for my mailing address. You can also reach me at: firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any suggestions that just can't wait for the mail ;)