In this project high school students explored the history and contemporary practice of correspondence or postal art. Through their understanding of this practice and the work of well known mail artists like Ray Johnson and Micheal Hernandez De La Luna as well as examples from John Held Jr’s massive mail art collection, students became familiar with the methods used to engage in this mode of art making as well as the purposes artists have for engaging in artistic dialogues through the mail.
Students then chose a current mail art call from a collection of 10-15 calls gathered from online mail art forums. These calls ranged in themes from Honoring the Shadow ( looking at Freud’s concept of the shadow) to Cats and Kittens, to Dolls, and in location from Alabama to Trinidad to Russia; each having a specific prompt for the artists to respond to, constraints of size and return. Some calls offered those who responded exhibition opportunities in galleries, art centers or online, while others offered a return in artwork or documentation in the form of a zine or blogpost. All of these aspects of the calls were factors in how students chose their call.

Students then created their own small edition of postcard mail artworks that included a copperplate printed “artistamp” collage and drawing to respond to the call they chose which were addressed, stamped and mailed out. Some students have already received responses or have seen their work posted online. After mailing the work students engaged in a reflection activity where many shared that although it was sad to mail out a piece of artwork they had thoughtfully created, the excitement of someone seeing their work and getting a response made parting with their work well worth it.

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