mail art

Nothing makes me happier than mailing art.

Well, I mean, yes wait. I love to eat, sleep, spend time with my family, nap with my dogs, and a myriad of other awesome things also make me happy AND I love to mail art—after I actually make the work first!

SuzZine gets mailed to subscribers every month.

Lately, I have been thinking about how mailing art is almost a collaboration with the receiver. Except if the person I send mail to never opens the mail because then the chain of operations is broken. The collaboration ends.

However, when the receiver opens mail that I send they have kept the chain of events moving in the direction I am expecting. I make. I mail. The mail service delivers. The person on the other end opens their mailbox and opens their mail art. Happy art moment ensues!

"Removing a letter from its envelope is a rich tactile experience." —Ryan P Smith for Smithsonian Magazine.

In thinking about art and collaborative experiences I decided to go into a research rabbit hole—I goggled "art mail."

Ray Johnson and many other artists have relied on the US Post Office as a part of their art practice and art delivery system. Here is an article in the Smithsonian that I found on this topic and subsequent curated art shows of mail art or also known as art that has been through the mail.

Expecting that others OPEN my mail is I know, not 100% a collaborative project. We are not actually making the work together. However, what I find is that my mail has been sparking a chain reaction of sorts.

Many people have mailed me art in return. By the way, I love this! Others have emailed me or messaged me, and still others pick up the phone to chat and fill me in on their life, the good and the not so good stuff, or their current creative practice.

In this way there is a give and take—a key tenant of collaboration. In this way we are creating tender stories and bearing witness to one another. The chain of mail art we are working towards a common purpose—that of connection and shared stories. This matters.

Suzanne Gibbs ©. Stitch Art 73, watercolor, thread, and embroidery floss on paper, 5 x 5 inches. (not available)

The pieces I mailed were abstract art and made of mixed media because through abstract visuals with varied materials people can decide to make their own story as they hold the work in their hand.

As an example, we could look at the work above as a lone person traveling within a square and going nowhere. Or we could look at the work shown above as an attempt at forging a new path. Of being creative and curious—what if I go here? Or if I turn here? Whoops! I went over the precious pink spot, now what?

Does the work above conjure up travels, travails, and stories for you?

I find I can read my own art in so many ways. Maybe that is the joy in making the work as abstracts. I become allowed to change the story I see as I wish or based on how I feel. Also, I hope that my art inspires the viewer to make their own observations and connections to self.

My Quixotic Giving Project (QGP), from which the piece above and the one below are members, has ended. However, I will continue to ship art: SuzZine is  shipped monthly to subscribers. While SuzZine is usually made of words, games, and illustrations sometimes I also send art of other kinds and even some practice piece ideas. Because I believe that SuzZine fans deserve to be a part of my creative journey.

Suzanne Gibbs ©. Stitch Art 82, watercolor, thread, handmade paper, and embroidery floss on paper, 5 x 5 inches. (not available)

Namasté and Thank you for reading. And please consider a subscription to SuzZine.

Back to blog