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Communicating Ideas of Humanity Dialogically Through the US Postal Service

a collaborative project conceived by Haley Morgan



Project Description

Project: A process of collective dialogue between four members of the Hampshire College community, spoken through the postal service, on themes of humanity. The correspondent works will be collected, assembled and installed by me, Haley Morgan, in the mail room at Hampshire College, to be displayed within the greater Hampshire community, and will be a culmination of her Collaborative Art class.

Theme: An extension of reflection on Paulo Freire’s Pedogy of the Oppressed idea that “only through communication can human life hold meaning.” Through communication (via the postal service- a growing neglected dialogical form of communication) we (the artists) will reflect upon what it means to be human, and what relationships we (as humans), have to our communities.

Concept: This project was born out of a project assignment for The Practice of Collaborative Art course at Amherst College. It examines the consciousness of being human, and what that means in the greater context of community. The project itself will be building community through the correspondence between myself and Natalie Sowell, Luis Guillen, and Sarah Sykes, who are all members of the Hampshire College community. These participants were chosen as representations of respectful members of the Hampshire faculty, staff, and student body. The project aims to encourage communication through the mail system rather than through technological venues (such as e-mail, text-message, or telephone), on the basis that these modes often encourage a culture of isolation and aren’t always paths for effective, ‘true’ dialogue. The physical mail presents and celebrates the many modes we, as human, use to express our ideas of feelings, be it through art, written ideas, collage, photographs, etc.

Method: This is a multi-faceted project that requires multiple stages, in order to lay the foundation for an effective dialogical project. As the facilitator of this project, I want to ensure a “safe space” for the artists’ expressions, as well as encourage the use this project as an experiential educational opportunity. This way, the final project will properly reflect the authentic contributions of the artists.
            First, I will send the three participants a copy of the project description, along with personal instructions and declaration of my trust in our creative power, as well as a schedule of mailings. Clarity is key for fruitful dialogue.
            Next, I will mail out individual postcards to the participants that all present the same question or idea, and ask them to respond. I will refer to these as ‘posing postcards’. They will participate in the dialogical action-reflection cycle by corresponding back to me via postcard, letter, or package. This will repeat three times.
            During this phase, I will conduct my interviews face to face.
            As I begin to receive the third set of correspondences, I will begin to assemble them as a final collaborative reflection on our themed postal dialogue. This will be displayed in the Hampshire College Post Office, or another venue within the community. The project’s artists will be encouraged to view the final culmination of their work, and engage in an active reflection of the process together.