Letters in Community

Letters in Community, 1987-88 and 2016, Mixed media
Cultural Rhetorics Exhibition, Lansing, Michigan, September 2016

For this exhibition, I displayed eight designed envelopes mailed to me from my pen pals in the late 1980s and eight designed envelopes mailed from me to people in my life in 2016. I chose eight people who I consider to be key connections to the multiple communities that I am part of today—family, friends, artists, designers, academics, and entrepreneurs.

In the pen pal tradition of my childhood, I carefully designed each envelope to communicate the common interests and bonds that I share with the recipient. Through this work, I am thinking as a designer—that is, very specifically about what I want to communicate to the recipient. As I craft each envelope, I ask myself, how can I communicate our shared connection and community through this gift of design? How do the choices in form, content, and style within these eight designs reflect on our relationship and my work as a designer? 

By returning to the act of letter writing, decorating, and designing in order to explore the process of being a designer, I considered what it means to present design as (a) gift to an audience.