Zine Art Gippsland. Mail Art.

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      On the 20th June 2016 the Manna Gum Community House officially launched Zine Art Gippsland by becoming a member of the International Union of Mail Artists (IUOMA), a collective with more than 4356 members posting envelope to A4 size artworks across the world.  IUOMA was born on August 16th 1988 and has its roots in the Fluxus Art Movement.   Fluxus spanned the globe, but its main centre was in New York City and it boasted a number of already internationally renowned artists such as George Maciunas, John Cage, Nam June Paik and Yoko Ono.  The Fluxus Movement took its inspiration from the Dada and Futurist Movements before them giving rise to George Brecht’s comments that ‘in Fluxus there has never been any attempt to agree on aims or methods, individuals with something unnameable in common have simply naturally coalesced to publish and perform their work. Perhaps this feeling is that the bounds of art are much wider than they have conventionally seemed or that art and certain long established bounds are no longer very useful.’

      Fluxus art was a social movement that emerged in the 1950s and 1960s aimed at changing the balance of power in the world.  It was in many ways a response to two World Wars and the threat of a nuclear holocaust brought about by the conflict between superpowers, primarily Russia and the US.  Fluxus built bridges between the conflicting states and Mail Art continues this tradition of peace and friendship today across all nations, races and creeds.

       Fluxus sought to change the history of the world and to make art a centre of personal pleasure, growth and healing.   The main aim of Fluxus artists was to merge boundaries between art and life.   In a moribund post-War climate Fluxus made humour a central tenet of creativity and this would serve to mock the elitism and conservative ‘high art’ that had kept  mainstream artists out of the fashionable contemporary art markets.  Fluxus brought art to the masses and Mail Art continues in this same tradition.

        In keeping with the 1960s revolutionary temper Fluxus put the element of chance at the centre of art and creativity.  Chance meant that one should embark on a piece of work without having a conception of the eventual end. Art is the process of creating, not the finished product.

Mail Art Class at the Manna Gum Community House.

001 (2)                002 (2)Noelle’s Mail Art to Richard Baudet, France.

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Pat’s Colouring-in Mandalas.

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Jenny and Tiger.

MAIL ART AND SMALL ZINES   CALLOUT!

Closing date for entries 18th November, 2016.

The Mannagum Community House, Foster has launched a Mail Art Group, which will allow local professional, hobby artists and others to create works to post and exchange on international websites, galleries and in private collections. Contributors who do not wish to be identified can enter under pseudonyms.

We welcome all contributors to our first ‘callout’.

What is Mail Art?

Mail art is an artistic movement centred on decorating envelopes, cards or small scale works and sending them through the postal service in response to callouts.  Local mail art can also be delivered by hand.   Works can be any size up to A 4.  There is no copyright, no costs and there are no returns.  Works are displayed on websites, in galleries or in private collections and sometimes in books or in zine anthologies.   The mail art movement developed out of the Fluxus movement in the 1950s and 60s and it has since grown into a global movement that aims to connect people of all ages and beliefs for the purpose sharing a variety of cultural views and experiences.

What are Zines?

Zines are self-published, single or small-circulation, booklets, papers, or brochures.  Hand-made zines can be sent through the postal system or delivered by hand.  Zines generally contain thoughts and ideas on topics not generally published by the mainstream media. Zines emerged from radical groups and individuals who felt the inability to express themselves through the usual publishing channels.

Mail art and zines are regarded as an expression of care, compassion and self-empowerment, please join us.

Entries to: Mannagum Community House, 33 Station Road. P.O. Box 176, Foster Victoria 3960.

Tel: 5682 1101. Fax 5682 1406. Email mannagum@dcsi.net.au

 

Julie Elman’s Fear Project.

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  Outsider Art Project // Fear Project – 

• Fear of being alone:
I can relate to the feeling of feeling alone with a crowd of others. On days when I don't think I am really making connections with those around me, I might as well be in a box, isolated, left with my own thoughts. I imagine this feels like being on the outside looking in, but in this visual, I turned it around so that this person is on the inside looking out. The key here is separation, a wall. Boxes tend to show up in my work as a common motif, so of course, the box over the person's head made its way into this piece. The images brings up feelings of being trapped, encased, apart. It could also signify how one's thoughts reverberates in one's own head, bouncing around the confines of the box. The writing I often use in the background of these pieces adds visual texture and a sort-of "mumbling." I know lots of people constantly have these running conversations going on in their heads, so I try to imagine what this particular person (in this case, Hannah) would be saying to herself. Doing this helps me connect with the fear, even if I don't necessarily feel it (or feel it as acutely) as the subject of the piece. The darkness above reminds me of dark clouds looming, following this person wherever she may be.

• Fear after the lights are out:
The image of sheep came to me instantly with this piece. If I had sheep standing on my head, well, that would indeed be a crushing weight. Counting sheep is a common "strategy" in helping oneself to fall asleep (so I've been told! Not sure how people really do this, though). So, sleep and sheep — they go together. Counting all the ways one failed during one's waking hours … That is what this person seems to be doing. "Shoulda, coulda, woulda" comes to mind. I used dark blue along the top of this piece, because it felt sort of storybook-like — threatening, but not overbearingly so. The words written in the background, again, are that running internal dialogue many of us have to cope with. The glitter along the top: I felt compelled to add that because it added a bit of fantasy and hope to this piece. Of course, the sheep stand in the way of truly getting a glimpse of this gold lining in the sky.

• Fear of speaking honestly:
There's definitely a wedge driven between this couple. I placed their faces on opposite ends of this piece. Musical notation is what ties them together. ("Faux harmony" planted that musical seed in my head.) The red background ties them together. But the quality of what's being said and heard is different for each person. Actually, I have no idea what the husband in this pieces is saying (I've never met him). I'd be curious to know what he thinks, or how he feels, about this piece. Does he feel the same way as his wife?

• Fear of losing one’s voice:
This person was preparing for surgery when I did this piece. He's a dynamic individual who relies on his voice to express himself — and so the possibility of losing it was devastating. I divided the piece up into two halves. The left side felt like what was known. Sunny. Good. And then the right side … darker and going into depths unchartered and unexpected. I used the word "passion" on the left side. The middle part, to me, represents a churning, a sense of chaos, a change. The word spitting out of this middle part: "silent," but the letters are mixed up. After I finished this piece, I stepped back and realized that the middle part looked like a fancy ribbon on a gift. Perhaps, in some way, this medical scare was a gift to Steve.

• Fear of being wrongfully imprisoned:
The subject of this piece was actually arrested (and wrongfully so. The charges were later dropped. It all boiled down to a First Amendment issue). I thought of figures in orange prison garb (that's what prisoners in town wear. I live in a small town, and sometimes I see prisoners being escorted from jail to the courthouse). The figures in this piece stand helpless. Again, the boxes encase their heads. The use of the black bars is obvious — cells, locked up, lack of control. To think that a certain percentage of people who are in prison are innocent is very, very scary to me (and others). This is one fear I don't like to dwell on very much. What kind of recourse do innocent people have when they're locked away.
Julie M. Elman is an associate professor in the School of Visual Communication at Ohio University in Athens, where she teaches courses in publication design. She has an MFA in photography from Ohio University and a BFA in commercial art from the University of Dayton (in Ohio). She worked within the newspaper industry for 15 years, as a designer, photojournalist and picture editor. She is co-author of The Newspaper Designer's Handbook, 7th edition, with Tim Harrower (McGraw-Hill, 2012). Elman designed the New York Times best-selling photography book The Rise of Barack Obama (Triumph Books, 2008) for Pete Souza, who is the chief White House photographer. She also designed the book Stories from the Anne Grimes Collection of American Folk Music (Ohio University Press, 2010). She has been working on the Fear Project since February 2012.



Friday Art Group: Foster.

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                                              Work by Pat.

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                                                Bicci and Tiarna.

Outsider Art.

 

ALL ART CHALLENGES OUR PERCEPTIONS. Outsider art challenges its audience more than most.   Outsider art confronts in unusual ways because it forces us to examine the extremities of human existence.   In this respect, the outsider artist and his or her audience share a precarious relationship because the outsider artist’s creations often exceed the boundaries set by mainstream society. Yet, such encounters, which are both subjective and transcendental, can often be illuminating because they provide a process for conveying one person’s meaning and culture in order to widen the general perspective. This in turn raises social awareness on matters of artistic ambiguity and taste and it allows us to tap into the hidden outsider that resides deeply buried in all of us.

The knowledge of Outsider Art in Australia is very limited compared to other countries and there are questions as to whether the description outsider is even appropriate for what is more or less a branch of visionary art.  In addition, the term outsider is frequently marked as discriminatory and exclusive as many outsiders are becoming commercially savvy and selling their work in mainstream galleries, which in turn alters their status to that of ínsiders.

The changes in outsider art appreciation do not apply to outsider architecture and buildings.  Large outsider structures generally stand alone on land owned by the artist or a representative and this makes support from established galleries difficult. In addition to the prohibitions on size and structure there are a myriad of legal complexities in acquiring outsider installations from privately owned lands.  There are other issues too, which can include the mental and physical status of the artist as well as third party representation or guardianship.  There is also the possibility of the artist’s isolation; many outsider artists find themselves having to cope with life’s difficulties without appropriate knowledge or services.  If these obstacles were not enough, outsider buildings are still seen by many as pseudo-art, or worse; a blot on the landscape giving rise to a hindrance in surrounding property values. Unfortunately, outsider art has a troubled history, it conflicts with the conservative temper and populations whose taste in art tends to be classical, romantic and based on accumulative material values.   Outsider art is ‘raw’, it is unabridged by conventions and portrays the inner abjection of the artist.    In effect, the outsider artist is making a profound statement about his or her place in the world as a non-conformist and as a consequence s/he is generally treated as an object of curiosity rather than someone with a different perspective on the life world.

In Australia, there are only a few major venues for collecting and exhibiting outsider art; these include the Cunningham Dax Collection at Melbourne University; a collection that gives impetus to mental health issues; the Arts Project Australia in Melbourne, Kickarts in Cairns, Queensland and the Self-Taught Outsider Art Research Collection at the University of Sydney. (Sydney University gives it focus to a broader interpretation of outsider art that includes anyone who is not artistically trained).  There is currently only one comprehensive Australian publication devoted to outsider art, which is titled Outsider Art: Spontaneous Alternatives, by Colin Rhodes (2010), Dean of Sydney’s School of Art and Curator of Sydney University’s Outsider Art Museum.  It is published by Thames and Hudson and the contents are not exclusive to Australia’s artists; rather, it covers a broad spectrum of international outsider art and installations.

       There are a small number of private sheltered workshops as well as outsider art dealers, but they do not extend their support to the outsider builder because shifting such constructions would be a logistical nightmare; the design is so spontaneous and complex that without detailed blueprints any reconstruction resembling the original would be impossible.    Hitherto, the work of outsider artists is limited in its gallery exposure and the number of installations and only small manageable pieces are sought by specialist collectors.  What is the future then for outsider art?

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Mindfulness and Art.

Mindfulness is the practice of bringing attention to the present moment in order to gather energy so one can look deeply into the nature of emotions and discover calm,  transformation, good health and well-being.   This is best achieved through the creation of the arts.  I am very proud to be able to present some of the work carried out by members of the Art for Health and Well-Being Group  at the Foster Manna Gum Community House, which serves the people of South Gippsland, in Australia’s  State of Victoria.

Beautiful flowers by grown and cared for by Jenny.

Jenny devotes much of her time to cultivating flowers that bring joy and happiness to people at the Community House as well as to residents at the hospital and aged care facilities. She has a beautiful garden, which she shares with her other passion, the wildlife.

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Jenny’s companions. Digital Camera 

Collage by Noelle.

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Colourwork by Pat.

Pat finds relaxation in colouring-in books which she plans to cut up and turn into collage.

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