Children, Veterans, artists, and other members of the San Francisco Bay Area community (and beyond) are sharing stories and making art. ArtSeed’s 2018 theme was developed by, and includes as participants, not only schoolchildren but also vulnerable adults — teens with autism or attention deficit and hyperactivity disorders, homeless families, military Veterans, immigrants, and others — threatened now by national and international societal changes. The working title of our culminating annual exhibition in the Presidio (a national park and a historic former military base) is “Mailing Home: Connecting John Brown‘s Legacy to the Aspirations and Enslavements of Our Time.”
Berkeley sociology professor, Arlie Russell Hochschild, spent five years researching most devastated communities in Louisiana. Her book “Strangers in our Own Land” has inspired us to widen the footprint of our local efforts by sending hand-made gifts with sincere conversation openers to people across the country whose views might be different from our own. We are also reaching out to concerned citizens abroad in the hope that seemingly unlikely friendships will develop as a result of the tangible transmission of hand-made expressions via the Federal postal system.
Sadly, this generation is gravitating away from an age-old method, “snail mail”, used for centuries to begin or to restore relationships. It is often said that a picture is worth 1,000 words. What effect could that same number of paintings, drawings, and hand-made prints have on folks whose mailbox contains magic: original art executed by artists of diverse ages, races, and expertise. Perhaps these “influencers” will share this surprise and ArtSeed’s good news with their friends on their gadgets! Social media can expand ArtSeed’s footprint. By doing this, participants and recipients will “climb the empathy wall” as Ms. Hochschild did with her new alt-right friends.
To each gift, carrying thoughtful children’s expressions, we will attach a few questions with a request for the recipient’s responses to be returned to us on a self-addressed, stamped storyboard format postcard. Josefa Vaughan has used this very effective tool for her own earlier art projects which gradually evolved into this nonprofit organization.