Here I am having a mail art show and tell, holding a couple of the "challenge the post office" items, a rubber koi and wooden shoe form sent through the mail just as they are!

Mail-Art ,

It's been said that mail art was created in the 60's from Fluxus, and Dada ,was begun by artists who did not believe art should be limited to the gallery and museum walls. It has the aim to create possibilities for direct exchange of art, ideas and information between artists in different countries, without going through the established art markets. The person credited with being the father of mail art as we know it was the late Ray Johnson .

WHAT IS MAIL ART? Some mailartists answers......

Dragonfly Dream's Mailart Alphabet

Mail-Art calls usually works in this way:
someone comes up with a theme for an exhibition and sends out invitations through the network. There are usually no limitations regarding techniques, materials, or methods, and usually there is some sort of documentation of who participated and the work is usually shown somewhere.

Take a peek at some current Mail Art Calls and why not make some art and mail it today!

These are some old mail art calls that I issued, check them out!

Koi Mail Art

Message In A Bottle


Check out more Mail Art Sites.

This was the very first piece of mail art I recieved way back in the mid 80's. It comes from a fellow named Matty Jankowski, and thanks to the web someone identified it for me! Until last year I did not know who sent it!

The Art Is in the Mail(ing) article from the Ohio Dispatch about the Ray Johnson Show at The Wexner

Here is a shot of a mail art show at a local gallery's bathroom which has since closed.

The following shots were shown at Guadalupe's Rubberstamps in Santa Fe.

Mail-Artists have always experimented with different art forms; collages, stamps, post cards,stickers,faux postage stamps,also known as artistamps, "objects d'art", audio, video etc. . The Mail Art pieces can also be sent to members in the network with either instructions to add to the piece or to create a new piece and send it on to others. Another form of Mail Art is to "test the post office" where as objects of different types are stamped up and sent through the mail such as toilet plungers,coin purses,plastic fish and beach balls.


The following is a general description from Ashley Parker-Owens:

Mail Art is a network not unlike that associated with business and the
80's. Mail Art can develop awareness and encourage actions. Mail Art
unlike the exclusive illusive and insular business of the money oriented
art world, the Mail Art Network is an open empowering world. Mail art is
also known as correspondence art, postal art, and networking art. This
art form is ancient. It has been told that Cleopatra had herself rolled
up in a carpet and delivered to Caesar - what a forward move! In modern
times, the Artist Marcel Duchamp of the Dada movement in 1916, sent a
series of postcards to his neighbors, the Arensburgs, in a project known
as "Rendezvous of 6 February, 1916".

The father of the US Mail Art movement is credited to
Ray Johnson of the
Black Mountain College. He established in the 60's The New York
Correspondence School. Johnson used the postal system to call meetings
and "nothings" (a response to "happenings" of the 60's). Even though Mail
Art thrives to not become part of the mainstream art scene, it has been
acknowledged by museums and galleries. In 1970, the Whitney Museum
mounted the first major (their terminology) correspondence art show, and
the Getty, the Museum of Modern Art and the Tate Museum in London have
mail art collections. On some occasions, mail art is sold to individuals,
however, this is not standard procedure. Today, hundreds of mail art
shows are presented each year and the network continues to grow around
the world.

The international postal system is the universal glue that connects the
networkers from a hut to a housing project. Mail Art is as varied as it's
senders, representing all nationalities and depicting a multitude of
interests. Mail Art can range from the whimsical and playful to stoic or
enraged. The forms that Mail Art comes in are also varied. It can be a
collage, a finely etched postage stamp, computer graphics, a drawing, a
xerox, a color copy, a print or a rubber stamp. To get into the Mail Art
network, one can find listings of exhibitions, and call for entries in
mail art magazines and newsletters, as well as popular mainstream mail
art periodicals.

Simply write for details of the show, submit works to be shown in the
exhibit, and at the closing of the show receive documentation of all
participating Artists names and addresses. You are then in the Mail
art network, the mail art stream of consciousness. Between the artists
there is a belief in community, a global network of communication

"Mail art becomes art when anyone who sends or receive it in the mail
decides to call it art." -Thomas Cassidy

If you don't understand the concept of "Mail Art", or need
more information on Global Mail, write:

Global Mail
Grove City Factory Stores PO Box 1309 Grove City,PA 16127


Wait a minute, Mr. Postman


Please check and see if there's a letter for me.....


When Alice Kitselman opens her mailbox, she never quite knows

what she'll find. A plastic carp on a key chain. A wooden letter in

a painted canvas envelope. Postcards covered with delicate drawings.

One-of-a-kind artists' stamps. It's all part of the international,

collaborative art-exchange known as mail art. And Kitselman

loves it. ``I was introduced to mail art sometime in the mid-'80s,''

she recalled. ``Then I didn't get back into doing it until about

three years ago. I correspond with hundreds of people worldwide.

It's become quite expensive, considering postage overseas.'' One of

the nicest things about mail-art, she said, is ``The fact that it's

non-judgmental. Usually, it's not like the art critic world, where

you're in a gallery and someone is going, `It's a piece of art,' or,

`It's not.' Mostly we just send stuff out. It's really very open and

free. ``I do something called artist's stamps, which are faux

postage stamps. I concentrated in that realm. As soon as you get

into this, your name is known, and people start exchanging with

you.'' The contents of a big basket of work she has made and

received bore Kitselman out. The varied contents included her

own stamps, beautifully printed on perforated paper. A single sheet

of paper from Verona, Italy, asking for art to be drawn thereon and

returned to Italy when full. And much more. ``There's a whole range

of types of mail art. There are lots of factions,'' Kitselman

said. For example, ``Some people like to do weird things,'' she

said, producing a large, plastic fish attached by a key chain to its

address card and half of a plastic brain model, its postage

carefully hand canceled. ``They do it just to challenge the post

office. Everything from rocks to drain pipes to bowling balls to

pillows have been sent through the mail.'' More treasures from the

basket. From Denmark: a canvas envelope with a thin piece of wood

inside, both artfully painted and decorated. Valentine letters in

plastic envelopes, stuffed with heart and flower cut-outs. Pieces

from Uruguay and Europe. ``I have one particular person in

California,'' Kitselman said, fishing another postcard out of

the pile. ``He sends me labels of food he's eaten.'' Or, in this

case a postcard covered with soap labels and glitter what he's

bathed with. A correspondent from Switzerland ``frequently will take

things I've sent, and often collage them back. ``My mail art persona

is called Dragonfly Dream. I'm often getting wonderful things that

have to do with dragonflies. Another is called `The Goddess Is Alive

and Magic Is Afoot.''' Mail art is often, but need not always be,

collaborative, she said. ``It can be. I did a collaborative piece

via email and did computer graphics on the final piece. ``And there

is a whole string of mail artists that do collaborative work.

Someone might do some sort of collage, then xerox it and say, please

add to this and send it on.'' Other factions of mail art include fax

art art sent and manipulated through facsimile transmission and

e-mail art, using simple alphanumeric characters to draw figures or

symbols. Kitselman's Web site (see below) is a fruitful source

of data on the art form. And if creativity starts to run dry,

``There's another faction of mail art,'' Kitselman said.

``They're calls. You send out a theme inviting responses.'' One call

she did, titled Life and Love on a Shoestring, resulted in

everything from a long shoestring embellished with plastic figures

of people and animals, to a white shoestring coiled and glued onto a

heavy red cardboard card. ``It's supposed to be guilt free,'' she

emphasized, pointing out another benefit to the process. ``If

somebody sends me something that doesn't really another mail artist

uses the word `twang' I don't have to send something back. You send

it out knowing that you might not get anything in return.'' For more

information, access Kitselman's Web site at


The Santa Fe New Mexican


General mail:

Going Postal By Chris Dodge


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