Pushing the Envelope: Mail Art from the Archives of American Art

Feb 16 2019 to May 5 2019
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Elizabeth Pearl Nasaw, aka Lyx Ish, aka Elizabeth Was, Mail Art to John Held Jr., 1987. John Held Papers Relating to Mail Art, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution

Due to the government shutdown, our Pushing the Envelope: Mail Art from the Archives of American Art exhibition which was scheduled to open on January 26, is delayed. The works are coming from the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. and will be shipped to us as soon as possible upon the Smithsonian’s reopening January 29. We apologize for the inconvenience and appreciate your patience.

In the 1960s, artists from around the world began looking to the postal system as an alternative means of producing, distributing, and receiving art. Mail art became an artistic practice engaging an international network of participants. With letters, postcards, and packages—as well as material that tested the limits of what could be posted—mail artists circumvented museums and commercial galleries, creatively sidestepping the art market and often eluding government censors. Examining how it has worked across divergent cultural circumstances—from McCarthy-era America, to Soviet Poland, to Chile under the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet—this exhibition engages issues of circulation, collaboration, and community in and among specific national contexts during the second half of the twentieth century.

Pushing the Envelope is drawn from collections of the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art and was curated by Miriam Kienle, a University of Kentucky assistant professor of art history, in conjunction with students in her special topics seminar on the international mail art movement.

Image: Elizabeth Pearl Nasaw, aka Lyx Ish, aka Elizabeth Was, mail art to John Held Jr., 1987. John Held papers relating to Mail Art, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
 

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