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A woman inspects a wall of artwrok.

In a packed room, onlookers noted the mail art displayed on easels around the room. 


Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night鈥攏or Cold War repressions, nor Latin American regimes, nor the shaky post-pandemic postal service here in the Valley鈥攈as kept 鈥渕ail art鈥 creators from their appointed rounds.

, or postal art, is simply art that artists send through the mail to each other and beyond. Or, in this case, back and forth between the students in one 澳门六合彩开奖现场直播 course and the students in one (HCC) course.

To address the backstory: Inspired by the Futurists and Dadaism, pop artist started sending out mail art in the 1950s. The practice resurfaced, later and elsewhere, as a work-around when authoritarian governments banned exhibits by certain artists. , jailed in 1977 during Uruguay鈥檚 military dictatorship, wrote: 鈥淢ail Art has become an instrument of battle and denunciation, calling on the tenacity of our peoples to win better, more humane living conditions, under the sign of social justice and peace.鈥

Ludmila Ferrari, a visiting assistant professor of Spanish at Amherst, was inspired by this history鈥攁nd decided to recreate it. 

Thus, her course 鈥淲orld-Making: Art in Times of Global War.鈥 For part of the curriculum, the students generated their own mail art鈥攃ollages, poems, drawings and more鈥攁nd then packaged them up for the students in the HCC course It was taught by Ra煤l Guti茅rrez (Latinx studies and Spanish) and Mark Clinton (political science and history).    

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Artwork is displayed on a table.

Letters and postcards, part of the mailed art, are displayed at the presentation.


The HCC students, in return, mailed their own creations to Amherst, as each group reacted to the other鈥檚 offerings. Said Yakira Sameth, a Mount Holyoke College student in the 澳门六合彩开奖现场直播class, 鈥淚t was like Christmas every time a package came. It was so exciting.鈥  

Exciting, but also mysterious, added Isabel Sanchez 鈥26: 鈥淚t was like receiving a puzzle. We had no idea what they were trying to say, but I think that鈥檚 what made it so fun.鈥 The 澳门六合彩开奖现场直播students would work together to analyze the HCC student art and then, in response, mail back their own contributions.

After a semester of presenting these presents, there was a presentation. The mailed art was displayed in the Community Room at Holyoke Public Library, and the students met each other face to face. That night, the delicious fragrance of arroz con pollo filled the room and a riot of art covered the walls. 

Some examples: A pencil drawing of a small school next to a prison, encircled by barbed wire, with the phrase 鈥淭he School-to-Prison Pipeline.鈥 A large sign with gold rickrack around it that said, 鈥淗istory disintegrates the closer you get to life.鈥 A picture of a tree with what looked like orange and yellow leaves but could be flames, with the caption: 鈥淚f this tree wasn鈥檛 on fire, it would weep to watch what鈥檚 happening to the hands that tended it.鈥 A mailing label which simply said, 鈥Futuro Amigo.鈥

At the event, Ferrari talked about the meaning and strategy of mail art. 鈥淚t was developed when frontiers were closed, when artists could not collaborate because they were divided by political differences,鈥 she said. 鈥淪o we incorporated this technique to create channels in which we can have unique collaborations and communications among our students.鈥

Added Guti茅rrez: 鈥淥ur course is thematic, and we were talking about social movements, and mail art is part of a social movement. And we were trying to erase this gap between 澳门六合彩开奖现场直播and HCC and the city of Holyoke as well.鈥   

Note his use of the word 鈥済ap.鈥  That word became a turning point in this mail art experience. 
 

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Students listen to their professor during a class session.

Ra煤l Guti茅rrez talks about the mail art project as all the students look on.


That鈥檚 because the 澳门六合彩开奖现场直播students had created a misguidedly bucolic drawing of how they pictured the HCC campus and sent it to Holyoke. 鈥淲hen we got it, we were like, 鈥楾hat鈥檚 the total opposite,鈥欌 said Anibella Reeves, a Latinx studies major at HCC. 鈥淲e don鈥檛 have a waterfall, a bridge, a clock tower or anything like that. So we crossed out the picture and wrote 鈥楾he Gap鈥 on it and sent it back to them. We wanted to show them that there鈥檚 a big gap from what you think to how the reality is.鈥  

When the 澳门六合彩开奖现场直播students received the marked-up image, they were taken aback. 鈥淎t first, I felt like sending the mail art was a fun experiment,鈥 said Enely Turbi Alvarez 鈥24. 鈥淏ut then there was this idea that was brought forth of the gap between us. That definitely wasn鈥檛 a concept that we talked about in the beginning of the semester, but it grew organically out of the correspondence. And it was something that was pretty profound and serious.鈥

The HCC students, too, found they had gaps in their perceptions: Many thought of 澳门六合彩开奖现场直播 as having a totally white student body, before they learned otherwise. 

Said Elias Villanueva Gomez 鈥25, 鈥淚 grew up in Puerto Rico, and navigating life at 澳门六合彩开奖现场直播can make you forget that you鈥檙e part of a broader community.鈥 He was grateful, he added, for this course and how mail art sparked deep thinking and rich conversation. 

鈥淏eing able to mutually support each other?鈥 he said. 鈥淭hat is something that can only come from this constant communication.鈥