“The Shape of Us: Water Ways and Movements” Mail Art Project

In place of an annual in-person National Gathering in 2021, IA hosted a virtual National Gathering in October and is producing a special Spring 2022 issue of IA’s multimedia journal Public, “The Shape of Us: Water Ways and Movements.” In addition to inviting IA members to contribute to the journal issue and conference, we also wanted to invite our members to engage with the topic of water through creative artmaking and reflection – hence our inaugural mail art project! 

This project is open to all IA members – faculty, staff, and students. Participation is free, and we will mail you a small kit with instructions, a prompt, and a few art supplies and materials to get you started. Register by January 15, 2022 to participate!


Inspired by the call for submissions for “The Shape of Us:  Water Ways and Movements,” the Spring 2022 issue of IA’s multimedia journal Public, we invite you into critical reflection on a subject of pressing concern across multiple political, economic, social, and environmental struggles for justice and equity: Water. We encourage you to reflect on the following question as you engage in your creative work for this mail art project: “How has water (literally or metaphorically) influenced, impacted, inspired or challenged you, your community, family, work, culture, or another facet of your identity?”

What to expect

Mail art traditionally has been a way for individuals to create and send small-scale works of art through the postal service. You may have also heard mail art referred to as postal art or correspondence art. A variety of media can be used in mail art, including: paper, postcards, found or recycled images and objects, stamps, paint, photographs, music, poetry, or anything else that can be put in an envelope and sent via post. 

To increase access to IA’s inaugural mail art project we will do two things 1) we will mail you a small kit with instructions, a prompt, and a few art supplies and materials to get you started 2) rather than have you mail us back your artwork, we will ask that you send us a photograph, a description, and any reflections you would like to share. You will also be invited to include your art and reflections as part of a digital display on the IA website, to launch around the same time as the Spring 2022 issue of Public.

If you choose to participate, we ask that you commit to submitting a digital photo of your final artwork, a description, and any accompanying reflections to IA via our online submission form no later than April 30, 2022 for inclusion in a public digital display on the IA website. A link to the online submission form will be provided to you in a confirmation email once we send your kit.


Dec. 1 – Jan. 15: Registration open via the IA website

Jan. 15 – Feb. 1: IA staff prepare project kits

Feb. 1 – 15: Mail art project kits sent out via mail

Feb. 15 – April 15: Creative artmaking!

April 15 – 30: Participants submit photo, description, and any reflections to IA

May – June: IA staff create and share public digital display via the IA website


Interested in signing up? Register here!

Questions? Reach out to Trina Van Schyndel, Membership Director, at tlva@ucdavis.edu.