About the Collection
The Oberlin College Mail Art Collection includes two archives: the Reid Wood "State of Being" Mail Art Archive and the Harley "Terra Candella" Mail Art Archive.
Together they contain over 20,000 pieces by over 1,800 artists from 70 countries created over a period of 45 years. Of the 1,800+ artists included in our collection, 300 artist files are processed and available for viewing by individuals or classes. The Mail Art Imagebase contains images for about 60% of the artists.
The Oberlin collection reflects the unexpected, eccentric nature of the Mail Art Movement – focused on turning ordinary mail into art – and their inventive use of materials and methods of communication. Mail artists have mailed dried squid, shoes, industrial tomato cans, license plates and foam bricks, often adorned with rubber stamps, stickers, metal, confetti, foil, and their unique "artistamps” (non-government stamps produced by artists).
In addition to personal letters, prints, collage and textiles, communication includes elaborate parodies of real-world organizations and people, like the International Council of Independent States a "United Nations" for imaginary mail art countries (a.k.a The Fifth World).
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Learn more about our Mail Artists
Remembering Harley: Oberlin Review obituary of Harley
Harley: the Portfolio: Online portfolio of Harley's work and works available for sale
An interview with Reid Wood and his State of Being Mail Art Archive conducted by Barbara Prior, Clarence Ward Art Librarian, edited by Josh Blankfield (OC '18)
Dogfish (aka Robert Rudine), of Tui Tui, speaking the Tui Tui language translated by his wife, Janet Yoder at the opening of the Museum of Artists Stamps