So, I received my first response to one of my Post for the Parks pieces yesterday. And it wasn't exactly what I had been expecting.
Mount Rainier National Park sent their painting back to me - business card and all. An interesting development!
Along with the painting was this form letter:
(If this is too small to read, click here for a bigger version.)
I have to admit, I was a little sad since I don't think that this response matches with the intended nature of the project. BUT this is a good lesson in realizing that people interpret things differently. Who am I to expect anyone to want to keep an unsolicited item?
It hadn't even crossed my mind that a park would have a museum collection or that my little sketch would be seen as wanting a place in that collection. Now I feel like some kind of ego maniac. I actually had imagined that this would end up stuffed in a drawer in "staff offices" but hey, it's neat to have it back!
Receiving this return is making me think more about art and ego and assuming what someone's response to work will be. Because part of this project is about not seeing the pieces as precious and museum-worthy, I feel a little bad (and slightly embarrassed) that the package was opened and my project viewed in such a way. Who am I to assume that another person will accept the burden of caring for this painting (since generally people think paintings should be cared for)? I didn't intend for it to be treasured but how is anyone else supposed to know that?
I would be interested to know what other people think about unsolicited art - art itself being something that as a society is a loaded thing (Is it art? Is it good art? Is it worth something? Is it worth saving? Should it be precious? Should it be garbage?) and how its value might be interpreted in a way you didn't intend.
So now I pack all the pieces back into the very official Department of the Interior manilla envelope and stash it away. It's my responsibility once again.
Oh! My favorite thing about this returned package is that in the bottom right corner of my form letter is a red scribble, the loop-dee-loop kind made when trying to get a pen's ink flowing. I LOVE IT.
So, to make it official:
Mount Rainier National Park Parcel -
posted: January 22nd, 2015
returned: February 17th, 2015 (All items returned except mailer and backing board/cello sleeve painting was shipped with/in.)
received: February 26th, 2015
Thanks for following along!
And P.S. let me just say PARK CURATOR?! I had no idea there was such a thing. What a dream job that must be!
P.P.S. In case you are wondering, below is what MY form letter reads. This letter goes out with each piece...
Hello [whichever] National Park,
Greetings from Boston Massachusetts. I am working on a project that involves making a small painting inspired by each of our National Parks. I am researching each park, creating the paintings, and then mailing the paintings to the parks.
Each week of 2015 I will be mailing out a painting to one national park and also posting the painting online. I am completing the paintings and mailing them in the order in which the parks gained their National Park status. I am using the addresses listed as the official mailing addresses of the parks, some are not located within the actual parks – if you want to forward this on to someone within the borders of the park, please do!
This project is part examination of treasured wilderness protected by our government and part thank you love letter to those who work so tirelessly to preserve special places for the plants and animals that live there as well as human visitors.
No response is required or expected, I am simply sending my art on ahead of me to the parks I haven’t visited yet and back to the parks I have been to.