A Secret Society on the Web

There is a sorta secret society on the web that actually is accessed outside the web. It’s a place where originality and creativity work hand in hand with community and  networking. The shows are constantly in Flux (an inside joke). And the artist tend to laugh a lot. And while many of the exhibitions are created around themes just as many are un-juried. These are artists that promote interaction outside of the normal approval systems of galleries.

Okay I’m talking about mail art. And as Ray Johnson who is considered the first mail artist called it, Correspondance Art. As the name implies it is based on sending small scale original work through the mail usually to a network of other mail artists. Or like I do at times, just send pieces to people I meet in my daily life.

The artwork can consist of collage elements, rubber or artist created stamps, found objects, recycled objects, paint and just about anything that can fit in an envelope or be attached to a postcard. To the artists once its sent it is then mail art. As a precursor to cyber communities these virtual communities also span the world.

From its start in the late 50’s to the establishment of Ray’s New York Correspondance School, to the schools death on April 5, 1973 as written in Ray’s unpublished letter to the Obituary Department of the New York Times and still now throughout the world, mail art is thriving. Anyone with a mailbox and the cost of postage can participate in circumventing the commercial art market.

As Published in Wikipedia; The mail art philosophy of openness and inclusion is exemplified by the “rules” included in invitations (calls) to postal projects: a mail art show has no jury, no entry fee, there is no censorship and all works are exhibited. The original contributions are not to be returned and remain the property of the organizers, but a catalog or documentation is sent free to all the participants in exchange for their works. Although these rules are sometimes stretched, they have generally held up for four decades.

One of the most popular sites for mail artists is the International Union of Mail-Artist, IUOMA. Its variety of groups covers just about any interest. But if there’s one missing feel free to start your own group. Either way you are guarenteed to meet some of the most fascinating people on the web through Mail-Art.

 Remember; Imagination is never still. The marks we make are verbs!

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Donald Kolberg graduated with a Fine Arts Degree from California State University, Los Angeles. He taught at the Los Angeles School of Art and co-founded Art Core, an organization dedicated to the open dialogue and display of the work of emerging artists. He continued his Master studies at Otis Art Institute. While at Otis Art Institute his teacher and main influence was internationally recognized painter Arnold Mesches. In Artcore he worked under the guidance of Lydia Takashita. With their teaching Donald learned the value of depth, texture and form in images and surface. He incorporated this into his concept of Life Forms, the portrayal of the human figure as a landscape of life and a celebration of form through Sculpture and Painting.

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