Rosy Weber ’23 received a Community Action Grant for the summer of 2020 and used art to create connection in a time of isolation.
Spring of 2020 was a weird one for all of us. For me, it was a period of time where I felt deeply disconnected–zoom calls and texts just weren’t cutting it. One day a friend of mine shared a short video showing how to create a potato print, and I thought it would be fun to give it a try. I carved a smiling flower into a potato, dug out some old acrylic paints from my basement, ripped up a number of brown paper grocery bags to use as my canvas, and started making prints. I found a sense of purpose and satisfaction in this small, repetitive action. I ended up making over 50 prints, and on a bit of a whim, I mailed them to family and friends. The responses I got from the people who received my silly flowers, in combination with how much personal enjoyment I experienced from creating the prints, made me want to do it over and over again!
With funding from the Laspa Center, I embarked on a summer-long snail mail art project. Each round started with a sketch, and then I transferred my design on to a block of linoleum, carved the block to match my design, printed and printed and printed some more, wrote a note, and finally stuffed the envelopes, releasing them into the world with so much love. I was able to mail out five rounds of prints and letters over three months, totalling over 500 prints. My mailing list grew from around 50 at the beginning to around 130 in the end. From start to finish, each round took me 30-40 hours to complete. (If you are curious to see photos of the prints and the notes that I sent alongside them, as well as my latest artistic endeavors, you can find them at instagram.com/rosymadethis_.)
This project was impactful on a number of levels. Personally, the repetitive, steady action gave me something to anchor to, even when the world around me was sent spiraling because of Covid. And on a larger scale, I think the prints and letters genuinely provided a moment of simple pleasure for the recipients. I knew that people all throughout the world were suffering in ways that I could not alleviate, and this project allowed me to focus on something small that I could do. Expecting nothing in return, I was delighted each time somebody reached out with a message of what my prints and words had meant to them. This project allowed me to reconnect with old friends, and even strangers. A friend of my grandmother sent me a hand-woven coaster; the mother of a friend I had lost touch with sent me a handmade journal; and I have become penpals with somebody I have still never met but now feel genuinely connected to.
Since this project came to a close at the end of the summer, I have continued to explore printmaking, and it has become a real passion of mine. My snail mail art project began as something random and fun, in a time when that was most needed. It allowed me to connect with family, friends, and strangers alike, even in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. This project has had lasting effects for me, and hope that when people are going through their desk drawers months or years from now, and they come across one of my prints, that it will again bring a smile to their face.