I’ve had the privilege of meeting many wonderful and talented people through the mail art community, and Mim is one of them. I’ve asked her some questions for you to get to know her better. You should check her out and send her mail!
1) You have participated in the Mail Art 365 project a few times around now. What has been the most rewarding thing about creating something in such a consistent fashion?
When I first agreed to join Andy Hoang on 365MailArt, I didn’t realize that it would have a long term effect on me. I should have known, as my son, Noah Scalin, did a 365 project and we saw how it affected his practice. He later wrote the book 365, Make Something Everyday and Change Your Life. When I finished my first 365, he eagerly asked me how it changed my life. At first, I laughed, and then I realized that it had changed my life – it made me get into my studio every day to make something. It taught me to be ready, having things available at hand, not worry about perfection or outcome, it made me just Make Something every day. It, also, had a calming effect in that for a few moments, and at times it was that, only 15 minutes, I had to let go of anything else I was thinking about, or doing. At the end of that year, I was able to look back at what I made and see that I had a resource for ideas – my own resource file, as it were. Because I wasn’t always at home, I kept a traveling kit ready, and I found that continuing to Make daily, even while traveling, was very good. It got me engaged in conversations with other people, at times. I ended up completing three 365 Mail Art projects. You can see them on Flickr.
2) What attracts you the most to the art of snail mail? What would be your elevator pitch to someone as an attempt to get them interested in sending mail?
I came to Mail Art as a practice in early 2000’s. I’d recently left a 24/7 kind of job and returned to teaching in a university art foundation program. I’d gotten away from art making, and in order to feel more authentic, I needed to make art! Mail Art and Artist Trading Cards were a way for me to get back to doing that. The small format was do-able in my tiny art making space, plus I could use them as design exercises for my students. The best part of Mail Art for me is that it’s non-judgmental, open to all, doesn’t have to cost much if one uses recycled materials, and connects me with the whole world. All for the price of postage. What could be better!
3) Besides mail art, what other creative communities do you participate in?
Studio art is a solitary experience. I have no other participatory art community, though we have a lot of artist friends. My husband’s studio is next to mine, but we don’t collaborate. My kids are, also, artists, so we are community of our own, in a way. I’m a knitter and knit in a group/class situation, which is fun for me. I’m getting back to sewing, after a bit of a break from making lots of small purses. It’s all fun for me and perhaps the daily practice of making Mail Art has helped me to be a more consistent Maker in general.
4) What kind of medium have you always wanted to try but never got around to? Or is there a medium that you wish you could spend more time working on?
Sometimes, I wish that I had a large studio where I could set up some BIG canvas and paint again. My early art life was as a painter, influenced by artists abstract expressionism on one hand and impressionism on the other. Big! I miss that at times. It was very nice to physically move paint around. Now I’m mostly cutting and pasting, or doing tiny water color landscapes.
5) You’ve lived in France for months at a time in the past. Do you think that living in another country influenced your creative process at all? Would you recommend this to someone who was in a creative rut?
Absolutely, I recommend travel to everyone. It doesn’t have to be far away from home even, just get away from your usual routine, and interact with another location and other people. Be willing to take a chance on being open and explore.
Our experience of living in Paris for months at a time, was amazing. We resided in a building for artist residencies so we met artists from all over the world; not just visual artists, but dancers and musicians. The entire atmosphere was about creativity. It was very invigorating. Besides having wonderful museums to look at famous art works, we had people to share ideas with and learn about different cultures. It was wonderful to discover that artists are actually respected in other countries. AND one of the absolute best things that happened during one of our residencies was meeting M. Vanci Stirnemann, the man who started Artist Trading Cards! He was staying in the Zurich studio, which was two studios away from ours. I was like a star-struck fan!. And I have photos to prove it – me with a huge, fan smile on my face.
Views like this can only inspire! Right? I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to stand in this spot and experience this (Palais Royal, Paris)
So inspiring! Thanks so much for sharing, Mim! I actually didn’t realize that her son wrote that book until now. I own it!! You can see additional Flickr albums of mail art here and here. If you’re interested in guest posting on Uncustomary Art, please e-mail me.
Mary, hello. I do not know you, but I have known Mim for, h-m-m-m-m, maybe 50 years (yikes!). I enjoyed your interview very much. May I just say that Mim is a total inspiration to me, and she never stops M A K I N G ! Thanks for your GuestPost on Uncustomary Art. Kind regards, bb.