The Trump administration has launched a targeted attack on the United States Postal Service, blocking billions in emergency funding necessary to facilitate mail-in voting — and thus potentially jeopardizing the upcoming presidential election. The very real and dire threat to our democracy has galvanized many concerned Americans to take action to help the struggling institution, from buying stamps to signing petitions.
The art world is also stepping in to do its part, with more than 60 artists donating one-off works to a fundraising raffle benefiting the postal service. The USPS Mail Art Fundraiser, organized by Jason Evans, filmmaker and founder of online arts archive This Long Century, features unique works by Dike Blair, Liz Deschenes, Patricia Treib, Nicolas Party, and many other contemporary names.
In addition to encouraging people to buy stamps — a crucial lifeline for the USPS, which does not receive taxpayer dollars and relies on the sale of postage and other products — the fundraiser will also make use of the postal service to send the final works, in the lineage of popular mail art. In modernity, the practice of mailing small-scale art dates back to the 1960s, when the Neo-Dada collagist Ray Johnson began sending drawings to friends and strangers and asking them to add on to them and recirculate them, chain letter-style. All the works included in USPS Mail Art Fundraiser can travel through the post with just a stamp, and range from painted postcards to customized envelopes and folded-down posters.
To enter, participants must buy an $11 book of stamps from the USPS website and email the receipt to firstname.lastname@example.org. Winners will be drawn on September 8 and receive a one-of-a-kind artwork by mail, created especially for the raffle. (For those who don’t send snail mail, Evans suggests donating their stamps to NYC Books Through Bars, a volunteer org that mails book packages to incarcerated individuals in prison.)
Evans was inspired by the flood of benefit art sales and advocacy projects he observed this year in support of global health efforts and racial justice initiatives.
“I wanted to do something similar for the US Postal Service, which is at the center of a political battle right now and in dire need of support,” he said. “The US Postal Service is not only vital for mail-in voting, but remains essential for many elderly and disabled people, indigenous and rural communities, and incarcerated peoples.”
“The response from the art community has been overwhelming; at a time when many artists have had their own support systems put in danger it’s incredible to see how people are still willing to give back to those in need,” Evans added.
Detailed guidelines on how to participate in the raffle can be found on This Long Century’s website.