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RETURN TO SENDER

Un-Send Project installation at VZW MAG in Ghent, Belgium, June 17, 2016.


WORKING TOGETHER AT WHEELOCK

Kristin Wissler

Imagine that you open your mailbox one day and find a letter, open it, and inside is a small piece of artwork — with an explanation that your job is to contribute to this piece of artwork in some fashion. You can draw on it with markers or pencils, paint on it with watercolors or oils, or even make a collage with it. You can do anything you want, as long as you can still fit it into an envelope and send it to its final destination, where it and hundreds of other artworks like it will be compiled into a collection.

This is what artists all over the world got to experience when they contributed to the Un-Send Project, a Small Works International Collaboration Project created by Argentinianborn artist Ivana Blanco Gross. The project was created two years ago on January 15, 2015 and has been going strong ever since, with its work displayed at exhibitions in various countries, including Spain, Denmark, Chile and the United States. The Un Send Project will return to the U.S. from January 31 to February 23 at the Towne Art Gallery at Wheelock College. The collection features 2,800 works, each one created by two artists: One who begins the piece, and another who finishes it.

Incredibly, no two pieces of the 2,800 being shown at Towne Art Gallery are the same. This is partly due to the lack of restrictions regarding what the contributing artists of the Un-Send Project were allowed to do. Aside from the rules dictating where and how to send the pieces, the artists were encouraged to do whatever they wished. Perhaps the only true rule is that the pieces must be sent physically through the mail. As technological communication is becoming more and more accessible, the mail seems to be going the way of the telegraph or messenger pigeons. It’s considered time-consuming and obsolete, but there’s still something intimate about a hand-written letter that can be touched and held. That intimacy is carried through each work of art for the Un-Send Project as it travels through the mail.

Despite featuring numerous artists from across the globe, the Un-Send Project fosters close connections between artists who create these diverse works of art. These smallscale exchanges allow the artists to explore their own creativity and, if they are the second artist in the process, the creativity of another artist as well. The individual meaning of each piece changes as the second artist interprets it and adds to it, allowing pieces to carry multiple meanings and emotions that work together in tandem.

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