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Postcard project aims to capture UNC staff's experiences during pandemic

Postcards from the Pandemic
University Libraries hosted Postcards from the Pandemic on Monday, Mar. 21, 2022.

Colorful postcards, markers and wooden stamps sat on a table in Wilson Library on Monday, ready for UNC staff to write notes about their pandemic experiences.

The project, titled "I Was Here: Postcards from the Pandemic," is intended to recognize staff of the University through artistic expression.

Launched on March 1, the project is led by the Staff Advisory Committee to the Chancellor, UNC Human Resources, University Libraries and UNC Arts Everywhere. The postcards will be part of a special exhibit on Arts Everywhere Day, April 8.

Monday's event at Wilson is one of several pop-up workshops being held this month.

“By using the art of postcard making, staff are able to make literary pieces and visual art pieces that help us communicate what we've gone through either personally or as a campus community,” Kathryn Wagner, associate director of Arts Everywhere, said.

She also said that as an initiative that aims to be a connecting point for the arts at UNC, Arts Everywhere is serving in a similar capacity for the "Postcards from the Pandemic" project.

“It's a great way to encourage staff to be creative," University Archivist Nicholas Graham said. "But it's also a way of documenting a record of what we've all experienced and are still experiencing throughout this pandemic.”

He said maintaining documentation of what people are going through today is important to future generations who will look back into the archives to learn about the pandemic's impact.

“The things that we're creating today, that Arts Everywhere is helping make happen, it’s different, it's more intentional,” Graham said. “But it's equally as important.”

Crystal Wu, marketing and development communications manager at Arts Everywhere, said it has been interesting to see the postcards the project has received.

“Some have been very sad, some of them very hopeful,” Wu said. “I've loved being at these workshops. When you talk to these people and they're telling you their story, it’s really heartwarming.”

When she made her own postcard, Wu said she had mixed emotions about what she was going to create.

“Trying to figure out how to represent that sort of juxtaposition of a pandemic that was awful for many, and yet I had such a positive experience, onto one postcard has been a big thought process for sure,” she said.

Wu said the pandemic has been a hard time for a lot of people. She said she has had struggles, but also experienced blessings in disguise. She added that she is thankful for the time she and her husband have spent together during this time.

“We're hoping that through this project, people can take a moment to use art as a tool to process grief or emotion, or use it as a team-building activity,” Wagner said. “We’ve been apart for the most for the past few years, and we can use it as an opportunity to create community again.”

Staff can request take-home kits of the postcards to complete and deliver them at drop boxes located around campus. 

Drop boxes can be found at Wilson Library, the Morrison Art Studio and the Ackland Art Museum. Participants can also return the postcards via email with a photocopy of their postcard attached. Postcards are being collected until April 1.

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