|Kathy Tycholis admires artists' works at the Richmond Art Gallery.|
KF: This year’s exhibit was the RAG’s 5th annual. Has participation grown?
KT: The first year, perhaps 80 artists exhibited; more than 400 artists participated in 2010/11.
KF: Can you comment on ATCs regarding the evolution of art movements?
KT: Many people have problems with the ATC concept, particularly with the giving. They’ll only trade certain ones or trade with certain people. But ATCs are exciting: they’re about collaboration and the trade. They’re anti-commercial and all about experimentation. Like performance art, ATCs are collaborative and democratic where artists, actors, musicians, anyone works to create something new.
KF: Please comment about the history of ATCs in the context of democracy and social commentary.
KT: Have you heard of Joseph Beuys [1921-86]? He was a controversial German artist who shook up the art world with avant-garde concepts. Beuys said, “Everyone is an artist.” He worked with community and believed strongly in the democracy of art. He was one of the founding members of the Green Party and in the 1960s joined the Fluxus group.
KF: What is Fluxus?
KT: Fluxus was a Sixties art movement evolving from Dadaism. Artists were from many disciplines: visual artists worked with musicians, dancers, designers, writers, and there was great interaction with their audience. [Wikipedia explains the name is derived from Latin, meaning “to flow.”]
Over time, the Mail Art phenomenon evolved in the late 1960s and 1970s, where artists mailed their work to one another. It can be anything, anything at all. Unlike ATCs, there is no expectation of getting anything back. Mail art is still going and when you think about it, ATCs take Mail Art to a different level. Interestingly, it is male dominated while ATCs are female-dominated.
KF: What’s the difference between these forms?
KT: The significant difference is that with jam cards or sending ATCs through the mail [“Pay it Forward”], ATC artists invite other artists to add something to their cards. That means we artists are willing to see our own creations altered by other artists.
KF: You’re emphasizing the democratization of art?
KT: Precisely. And ATCs bypass galleries. ATCs are about being inclusive and not being part of an elitist gallery system. They’re about sharing and interaction.
|Katharine admiring ATCs at the Richmond Art Gallery.|
KT: Let me tell you something. The way ATC cards are hung in their plastic sleeves rather than framing them has an interesting effect upon people. We took one out of its sleeve and framed it a month ago. All of a sudden, the ATC was perceived as art! You know, we are so in our culture: we are so commercial. People (and many artists) think that if you’re a “real” artist you have to make money from your work.
KF: Thanks so much for your time, Kathy: you’ve been extremely inspiring as well as insightful. I hope we can look forward to a 6th ATC exhibit at the RAG.
[Note: Although a 6th ATC RAG exhibit may happen again, it won’t be in 2011/12.]