Navigating memory with mail art

This week’s assignment on the Coursera Art course was mail art, with the theme of memory.

I am so glad I decided to do this course.  It has been really interesting.  I was very close to deciding I did not have the time to do it, so I am glad I found the time, and decided to submit what I had, not worry if it was ‘perfect’ or not. Despite the imperfection I am learning a lot and this is stretching me as an artist.

Here are the photos and art statement about the work that I submitted as part of this week’s assignment.

The open envelope:
Ship envelope

The closed envelope:
Ship envelope sealed

The insert:
Memory map

The insert inside the envelope:
Ship envelope with insertThis work is titled ‘Navigating the turbulance’.

This work was created with mixed media.  The materials used include acrylic paint, glue, pencil, watercolours, artist crayons, and also the use of controlled burning.

in thinking about memory and what it means to me I considered the turbulent nature of some memories and experiences.  This made me think of navigating turbulent waters and from there I came up with the idea of a ship and ‘map’.  I constructed the envelope to resemble a ship, and it folds down, with the sails over the main part of the ship on one side.  Both sides of the envelope are painted the same.  I wanted the paint on the ship to be not pretty and perfect, because navigating the waters of memory is often done with a worn ship that has been through some storms.  There are two slits cut into the envelope, and the ‘crow’s nest’ threads through the two slits to seal the envelope.

It seemed appropriate to use the crow’s nest in this way to seal the envelope, as that is the look-out post, and where you look at the surrounding terrain, both for what you are looking for, and also potential hazards.  Both aspects come into play when considering memory and looking at memory.

For the ‘map’, I aged the paper using watercolour and burnt the edges.  I decided to use the map for locating memory, hence the profile drawing with a picture of the brain.  The hippocampus (in the brain) is where memory is responsible for memory creation and retention.  I highlighted that part of the brain in red, and then lightly scorched the area with a controlled flame, to indicate the potential hazards and turbulence that memories can create when we are looking at them, and remembering.  The part if the hippocampus that is missing with the scorch hole also represents missing memories, and holes or gaps in our memories.

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8 thoughts on “Navigating memory with mail art

  1. That is beautiful. The symbolism of the scorching on the hippocampus is really wonderful. Taking a course like this sounds like an amazing way to expand your repertoire and refine your craft.

  2. Wow Natasha, this looks really amazing! I also like your thought about it. Thanks for sharing!
    I have one question, maybe it sounds a bit stupid, but I am pretty new to all these challenges, so I just ask to find answers… Is this envelope really designed for mailing it through snail mail or is it just called that way because you designed it as an evelope?

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