Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Mail-Art musings

Today's post features (a few) less words and more pictures.

During the month of September, I participated in a mailart project organized mainly through twitter by Montreal-based artist Mark-Philip Venema. I and 28 other artists volunteered to make 28 postcard-sized pieces of art and to then send them to each other in the mail, as postcards -- that is, without envelopes or other protection from the trials of postal system passage.

Postage art has a long and varied history. The founder, more or less, of modern mail art may be considered to be Ray Johnson. Follow the link to an interesting account of his mail art adventures.

For September's mail art project, we were given a theme: 'Time and being human in time.'

When I think of time and being human, I think inevitably of the passage of time, something inexorable, often swift and irreversible.

What came clearly to mind again and again was the evening gatha chanted in Zen buddhist zendos since time immemorial:
Let me respectfully remind you
Life and death are of supreme importance.
Time swiftly passes by and opportunity is lost.
Each of us must strive to awaken;
Take heed; do not squander your life.

In the paintings I came up with, I tried to express these feelings: a sense of aging as well as agelessness, of winter, of sleep and of waiting. I hope you'll agree that there's something going on within these barren, possibly withered trees -- something beneath the surface, or behind the scenes. They're not necessarily bleak or dark -- they may be considered serene, gentle, even generous. But hopefully they are serious.

Here are several of my efforts:

P20090831-1 This is one the earliest ones.

A middle piece.

Playing around with the 'suns.'

P20090919-5One of my personal favorites.

All 28 mailart pieces I made (I even sent one to myself) can be seen on my flickr page here.

I've received a lot of interesting mailart in exchange. Here's a sampling:

This is the first one I received:
mailart from @iworebluviolets
Really incredible. It's by @iworebluviolets aka Jeanine Strasia. This set a high standard.

This piece by Simrat Khalsa was equally impressive. She's got a detailed explanation of her process on her flickr page.
mailart from @simratkhalsa

The following intriguing piece is by Christi Nielsen; I think it's a silver gelatin print.

Steve Lauman's (@Buffalokid) piece is an eye catcher: cut paper mounted on plexiglas.

You can see all of the wonderful mailart I've received here and all the mailart that everyone received and posted on flickr here.

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