The Postcard Show
Works by Kristin Carlson
Exhibition: September 8 - September 30
Gallery Reception: September 28, 2:00-4:00 p.m.
Kristin Carlson: Statement on The Postcard Show
Last year I embarked on a five-month project called Large Letters, Small Signs as part of my MFA thesis in Printmaking. At the outset of the project I chose four people whose friendship was important to me and mailed each person a handmade box (image 1). My goal over the next five months was to fill each person’s box with letters (image 2) and postcards (images 3–4) that served as both personal communications and as visual artworks. The original mailed pieces have been displayed as artifacts in the gallery setting, and as archival digital prints that composite multiple pieces into new visualizations (images 5–10).
My activity was based on the notion of art as correspondence—between people, over time. The metaphor is not new. But by making the metaphor literal—by using the visual and verbal relationships inherent in the art-making process to correspond with both friends and strangers—my work attempted to reveal structures and dynamics of that correspondence, and to elicit an instance of art's gift economy folding back upon itself. Many pieces become more artifact than artwork because the intersection I worked to produce in making them first occurred when recipients received the works, as a gift, via the postal service. By displaying these pieces in the gallery I hope the experiences I occasioned in giving them as gifts produce similarly resonant experiences for the viewer, i.e. a correspondence that is simultaneously public and personal, self-conscious and accidental.
In addition to showing my correspondence-inspired pieces, I propose instigating a collaborative work at the Moberly College Gallery that invites the response of viewers through their own writing and/or drawing. I recently gave a paper called Words Become Images: Visual, Verbal, and Gestural Brainstorming in the College Classroom (see resume), demonstrating that the physical act of mark-making—either through handwriting or drawing or both—can intensify the creative and critical-thinking process. Based on this research, my collaborative piece would ask viewers to react to an initial instigator-artwork, which would be a printed piece produced in multiple and displayed in both its original form and its altered contributor-manifestations. The specifics of such an artwork, created specially for the Moberly College Gallery, would be based on detailed knowledge of the gallery and its attendees, and would result from discussion between the gallery director and myself.
The collaborative piece is an opportunity to draw-in viewers and show them the value of the creative process—to learn by doing rather than just looking. For a gallery with educational programming, it might also offer students a more structured and prolonged learning experience, and give them an opportunity to correspond with a practicing artist who lives in another part of the country. I am open to the possibility of coordinating the collaborative piece with a specific group of students and initiating a correspondence that travels back and forth multiple times. This offers the possibility of a gallery component that will change from week to week, capturing viewers’ attention for more than one visit.
I look forward to the possibility of showing my work in the college’s gallery, and, if it is of interest, discussing a new piece that will allow me to collaborate with students and other viewers in the Moberly College Gallery.
Gallery of Works:
Click on photo to enlarge