James Lee Byars
Lucian E. Ferster
Lynne Golob Gelfman
E.F. Higgins III
William Pope L.
Nabila Zoraya Santa-Cristo
Note: All visitors will be required to abide by all COVID safety protocols put in place by Oolite Arts.
“I always feel that the margins tell you more than the center of the page ever could,” -Marcia Tucker, Founder of the New Museum, NY
Reflecting on a model that shaped an American museum built on cross-cultural dialogue and pondering on ways to engage artists and their peers during a time of isolation, Diverse Networks is a group exhibition that explores contemporary mail art collaborations between Miami-based artists and their colleagues, artist ephemera from William Pope. L, and historic works by Joseph Beuys, Ray Johnson, and James Lee Byars. From the Fluxus in the 60s and 70s to the Miami Dade Public Library ArtMobile in the 80s, mail art takes its roots in arts advocacy and radical thought.
Often lighthearted, witty, and playful, mail art seeks to challenge conventional exhibition spaces and offers a discourse about how a page can provide an opportunity for Concrete poetry, a script for a performance, an educational artifact, or a dialogue between artists and organizers. Artworks that include marginalia and artist publications provide windows into process. As a play on the phrase Eternal Network, invented by French artist Robert Filliou in the early 60’s and expanded on by American artist George Brecht who helped develop the concept, Diverse Networks draws both on the history of mail art both locally and nationally and explores recent incentives to support the USPS during the pandemic. We’ve asked current residents and alumni to correspond with other artists of their choosing to create new works for this exhibition.
We give special thanks to Saul Ostrow, Susan Bowman, and the Miami-Dade Public Library for lending historical works for this exhibition.
924 Lincoln Road,
As a play on the phrase “Eternal Network,” conceptualized by French artist Robert Filliou in the early 1960s and further developed by American artist George Brecht, Diverse Networks draws on the history of mail art both locally and nationally. The exhibition reaffirms the indispensable role of the U.S. Postal Service, politicized in the recent presidential election, with Oolite Arts resident artists and alumni invited to correspond with other artists of their choosing in order to create new works and find common ground during the pandemic.
Recto of postcard addressed to Marcia Tucker from William Pope.L; Marcia Tucker papers, 1995-99, in the collection of The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles (2004.M.13)
In 1999, William Pope.L performed blackness via a stamp that reads “I AM STILL BLACK” in a mail art series called the Reassurance Project. In June and August of that year, the artist directly corresponded with Marcia Tucker, sending her a dozen postcards to offer encouragement during a difficult time.
As Marcia Tucker, founder of New York City’s New Museum and herself a curator of cross-cultural artistic dialogues, once opined, “I always feel that the margins tell you more than the center of the page ever could.”
Insufficient Dada Zine, March · April 1988, 8.5 x 11 in., zine, SUNY at BUFFALO Lockwood Library, Amherst Campus, NY, In the collection of the Vasari Project, Miami-Dade Public Library
In celebrating the history of mail art as an accessible, often anonymous, and sometimes zany or darkly creative phenomenon, Diverse Networks takes a deeper look into the local and national history of the art form and opens a dialogue about the power of collaboration through the myriad ways that artists process current events, both individually and communally.
A mail art exhibition in the ArtMobile branch of the Miami-Dade Public Library in 1988 touted mail art as “more original” and the “least expensive” form of art-making on the cusp of being accepted into mainstream art circles. This show featured the collection of artist Gregory Puchalski, who stated, “The entire mail art phenomenon is rooted in the counterculture movement of the past several decades.”