Mail project creates network for artists

Exhibition of mail art on display at Nanaimo Art Gallery

Artists worked socially on media before there was a thing called social media.

The downtown Nanaimo Art Gallery hosts Mayworks Mail Art exhibition, from Saturday (May 12) until May 22.

Mail Art is the term used to describe the exchange of art works, from artist to artist, through the mail.

The Mail Art network around the world began in the late 1960s, using the postal system outside of the galleries, museums and art market.

For some artists, Mail Art was a means of meeting other artists through the medium of their work, for others it provided a network of fellow artists in other countries to visit, eat a meal together, and perhaps spend a night with while travelling. For others, particularly artists living under repressive governments, Mail Art provided a window on the world and an opportunity to make their concerns known.

In 1970, Ed Varney was one of the first Canadian artists to participate in what became the Mail Art Network, which continues to flourish as an alternative art strategy up to the present day.

For the Nanaimo Art Gallery exhibit, artists were invited – through snail mail and e-mail – to send a postcard-sized work of art dealing with the theme of “Labour and/or Work.”

Artists responded from as far away as Argentina, Russia and the United Kingdom.

Three Nanaimo artists are among the 222 artists from 32 countries that have contributed work to the exhibition.

Margaret Bonneau and Rod Corraini from Nanaimo, and Cheryl Ashley from Protection Island, sent in work to the curator – Varney, who lives in Royston. A number of artists from Victoria, Courtenay, the Gulf Islands and the Vancouver area also responded with unusual, highly skilled and provocative art works.

An opening reception is set for Saturday (May 12), 2-4 p.m.

For more information, please call 250-754-1750.