Viva Snail Mail: Tell us about your Keep Writing project postcards.
Gutwrench: Since I moved to Baton Rouge three years ago from New Orleans, I wanted a way to keep in touch with my friends and penpals. I knew I would be busy in school and also wanted a project that somehow related to what I was doing while working towards a degree in printmaking. I started printing postcards, one each month, and sending them to everyone on a mailing list. The first year had no theme; I made what ever I was inspired to. The second year, each postcard was a collaboration between myself and a friend, sometimes a printmaker, sometimes not.
This past year, I have been printing interactive cards. Each has a part for the recipient to tear off and send back to me, completing some task that relates to the card I sent. For example, the first card I was having a difficult winter. So I printed the word TRY in large silver letters on handmade paper and asked recipients to send me something about what inspires them in difficult times, what gets them through the winter. This project has been incorporated into my school work and the cards I have received will be displayed as part of my senior show in December. Of course it will continue, but I am not sure in what form.
VSM: What gets sent back to you and what does the recipient keep?
Gutwrench: The “try” side was the half they kept. The other half was blank on one side with instructions, a stamp and my address on the other. The orange paper was made partially from my favorite shirt from Summer 2004, when I was living in New Orleans. The hurricane hit the next summer. And, obviously, things changed. All the postcards are about staying connected to the people you love, not just in postcards, but in other meaningful exchanges. This is a way for me to keep in touch with my friends but also to let them know a little about what is happening with me and ask them a question about their lives.
VSM: What’s been the best thing about this project?
Gutwrench: The best thing for sure has been hearing from people I did not expect and reading their responses. My cousin has responded to every card, though we usually only talk once a year or so. One friend has sent very thoughtful responses every time. I think the format has encouraged people who don’t usually write postcards but want to.
Viva Snail Mail!
Visit Gutwrench’s Etsy shop or write a comment on her blog, wishing her luck on her senior show!