post office

Mail Art

In the 1980’s I was involved with an art movement that involved sending things through the worldwide postal system. The movement and the objects sent in the mail are both called Mail Art.

Remember, there was only a fledgling internet back then, no web like we have it now and the postal service was our network.

There were hundreds of mail art shows happening each year in various parts of the world and lists of them circulated in mail art "zines" (magazines) that were many times a few pieces of photocopied paper stapled together.

Those of us who took part would make a card or put a piece of art or a letter in an envelope and send it off. I was involved in many hundreds if not a thousand of these shows and I hosted my own for many years. I loved producing cards with stamps, photocopy collage and more and it was fun to send things off to places that I’d never even heard of let alone been.

Over the years that I was involved I kept a box, then two, and now many full of the mail art that found its way to me. I haven’t done a thorough sort of these boxes but because I wanted to start documenting my experience with this fascinating movement, I scanned a few interesting things.

Opening one of these boxes is like opening a time capsule on a part of my life I’ve not thought about for many years.

I decided to dig into this to take part in a project National Public Radio is putting together on the U.S. Postal Service.

Mail Art from Angela and Henning Mittendorf

Mail Art from Angela and Henning Mittendorf

Mail Art from Ryoskuke Cohen

Mail Art from Ryoskuke Cohen

Mail Art from Ryoskuke Cohen

Mail Art from Ryoskuke Cohen

Mail Art from Doc 5 cents

Mail Art from Doc 5 cents

Mail Art from Suzanne Nuttall

Mail Art from Suzanne Nuttall

Mail Art from Santa Barbara, California

Mail Art from Santa Barbara, California

Mail Art from CW Summers

Mail Art from CW Summers

Isamu Noguchi stamps

noguchi_stamps

I was just mailing something in the post office in the next town (not the micro-post office in our town) and noticed all the new commemoratives in the glass case on the wall. One of them was a wonderful Isamu Noguchi Uncut Press Sheet which I snapped up two of immediately, one to keep and one to use. Wow, what a spectacular sheet.

I could not find a picture of the sheet itself on the USPS site, just the top line of stamps. The sheet has a large picture of the artist and a beautiful quotation and 4 rows of stamps, each one a spectacular black and white photo of a different piece of his work.

noguchi_with_sculptureNoguchi, who has been dead since the late 1980’s, is one of my all time favorite artists. He used all media and his work is simple, useful, and beautiful. He made sculpture, furniture, parks, lamps, fountains, monuments, paintings, theater sets, and more. The Noguchi Museum in New York is well worth a visit if you find his work interesting.

If you’re a fan of Constantin Brancusi or Alexander Calder or even Buckminster Fuller, you’re going to enjoy Noguchi’s work and ideas about form and function.

 

 

 

 

Everything is sculpture.

Any material,

any idea without hinderance

born into space,

I consider sculpture.

— Noguchi