Last week while at Never Graduate Week, I finished the presentation part of an art project I’ve been working on for years: “Postcards to Pals” or what I’m now calling “Postcard Wall” (I didn’t stress a lot about the name).
Since high school, I’ve collected postcards when I’ve traveled, or when shops offer them for free, etc. My college freshman roommate decorated our room with cutouts from magazines, etc. (peak teen vibes), and inspired by her, I started putting the cards I collected on my wall. Every time I moved, I would take down all the postcards, which I learned to start affixing with blue painter’s tape to limit damage to the card, and then put them back up again. All told, I did this for about 10 years.
When I moved in 2018, I took down the wall for the last time, and decided that I would send the blank cards to friends (and others), with a description of what I remembered about the card, how I got it, or what it made me think of. In order to do this, I asked many friends and other folks if they were open to receiving a postcard from me that was a little on the art project side.
Before I sent the postcard, I took a photograph of the front and the back, and I posted those photos to an Instagram account, @postcards.to.pals. That way, I would have a chronology of when I sent the postcards. I didn’t tell the recipients about the Instagram account until after they’d received the card. For kicks, each postcard photo is also geotagged with where the postcard is from (sometimes what the postcard is “from” in cases where I got the postcard at a thrift store and it’s of another place).
I started sending postcards in September of 2018. I kept the stack of postcards under my bed (with a corresponding stack of postcard stamps) and I sent about one or two out each month. In January 2020, I sent out the last one, which I sent to myself because it was my favorite, and I thought that would be a nice capstone to the project.
After sending out all the cards, I felt like the Instagram account didn’t give enough of a sense of the story I just told you. How could I communicate the context of what these cards meant to me?
When I was moving, I took a photo of the wall — I had partially taken it down, but luckily I thought to do this when I’d only taken down ~20% of the cards.
That photo is what you see when you go to pamselle.com/postcardwall.
Confession: The photo is mildly augmented, to add back some cards that had been taken down, sometimes used to cover up photographs of folks I know wouldn’t necessarily like their photo on the internet in an art project 🙂
But I don’t want to give too much away about exploring the project, since it’s meant to be discovered … in another post, I’ll detail the technical details of what went into building the site, since there were quite a few interesting tricks.