That’s right, I am coining the term “Minternship” for a “mini internship”– meaning a week long project-based intensive learning experience. I just got back from such a thing and from an amazing trip to Chicago. I got in on Friday and spent the weekend with friends, running around the city, and soaking up warmer-than-Portland weather. As Monday came, so did my allergies, but I didn’t let that slow me down.
As I mentioned many moons ago, I was working with the Artistamp collection at the JFABC. I spent the week digging around for information on artists, their stamps, their origins, uncovering pseudonyms (because as it turns out, the government doesn’t like when you make your own stamps), and beginning to understand the VAST network that is made up of artists who participate (or have participated) in this medium. It was really exciting research and I created the original metadata, rehoused the stamp collection, and will be writing a description of the collection for the digital library that will be completed after the staff is able to photograph all of the stamps. It turns out there are many odd intricacies when trying to write metadata for such an art form and I did my best to make it as inclusive as possible so that future researchers on the topic can find what they need.
The book above was one instrumental in my research and I had the pleasure of actually meeting with Michael Thompson (one of the authors and a Chicago based mail artist). He shared great stories about his involvement in the network, being arrested, being kicked out of China for creating a controversial stamp featuring the Dalai Lama, and filing a lawsuit against the U.S. Postal service–and WINNING! He’s organizing a show at the Erie Art Museum and I truly hope I get a chance to see it because it addresses this lawsuit, the subversive nature of stamps, censorship, and surveillance Michael has endured.
I hope to work with artistamps in the future and this just goes to show you that incredibly valuable (personal and professional) experiences can come from minternships.