Durham gallery creates art out of worldwide mail
For just the price of shipping and handling, artists from around the world can display their work in a Durham art gallery.
The Scrap Exchange, a nonprofit organization that collects, sells and displays reused objects, is hosting an exhibition named “Signed, Sealed, Delivered,” where people were encouraged to send all types of art to The Scrap Exchange through the mail.
“What’s really nice about mail art is it’s something that goes across many different mediums,” said Ruth Warren, marketing and promotions coordinator for the exchange.
“We have art that’s been painted and collaged, as well as sketches, and we’ve also had art sent in on a vinyl record album, a plate and a chalk drawing on a shingle. What’s nice about it is it really spans a broad range of artists and art techniques, and is really something that anyone can do.”
The mail art is currently on display in the Scrap Exchange’s Green Gallery, where it has either been hung or placed on pedestals, depending on what type of medium was used to create the piece of art. Rod McClain, manager of the Green Gallery, is part of a committee of members who organized and planned the show.
“There’s a really active mail art scene where people trade art through mail pieces, which gave us the idea to put a call out across the country for some mail art,” he said.
“We reached out to different mail artists and mail art blogs to spread the word, and within a couple of days we started getting mail from around the globe.”
McClain said the gallery received art from other countries such as Germany, Ireland, Japan and the United Kingdom, as well as mail art from all across the United States, which is new for The Scrap Exchange.
“It’s interesting to sit in a room with art that has traveled through the postal system or through whatever country’s version of a postal system,” McClain said.
“This is stuff that has traveled unprotected and most often, we’re seeing things people have made to travel through these various systems, so it’s interesting to see how things arrive from where they were.”
The project also has some interactive aspects to it, including last Sunday’s “Make and Take,” where visitors were encouraged to create and send their own mail art. In addition, the gallery will be sending mail back to any return addresses they’ve received, said Daniel Bagnell, a member of the gallery committee.
“Part of our mission is what you can do with reusing,” Bagnell said.
“With mail art, which is so fun, a lot of people send out stuff, and you can easily send them stuff back with a return address, so we’re sending back whatever we can fit in there.”
Bagnell also said that as a nonprofit organization, The Scrap Exchange was able to easily promote what they do with the mail art and the facility with which they were able to acquire the works of art.
“As far as a gallery goes, we’re trying to get to the point where shows won’t just feature stuff laying in the gallery, but stuff that people will be interested in seeing and participating in,” he said.
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