A note from project founder Gail Ellspermann

My husband and I are both stamp collectors – he collects postage stamps, while I collect rubber stamps.  Though seemingly unrelated, our respective collections led to my idea for the Remember September Mail Art Memorial.

 
In May of 2002, I attended “Artiology”, a mixed-media art conference (including rubber stamped art) at the Atlantic City Convention Center.  The following August found me back at the same convention center with my husband, the philatelist, at the International Stamp Show.
 
The philatelic show included an exhibit of what postage stamp collectors call “first day covers”.   These are envelopes mailed using a stamp on the first day of issue, many decorated with artwork related to the new postage stamp (called “cachets”).  At the same exhibit was a small memorial to the victims of 9/11/01.
 
As I viewed the philatelic exhibits the idea formed to combine my mixed-media art with the concept of “cachets”, commemorative envelope art.  I decided to do a mail-art call in honor and remembrance of  the 9/11 attacks on America, as a way for people to express their feelings and to keep their promise to “never forget”. 
 

 


 


 

With a scant two weeks between my idea and the first anniversary of 9/11, I turned to the internet and a number of mixed-media art groups to spread the word.  Through the kindness of these friends the wonders of the internet took over - soon the information was spread far and wide.
 
The “Call” guidelines asked that an envelope be decorated with 9/11 relevant artwork, addressed to the Remember September mailbox, and taken to the Post Office for a 9/11/02 postmark.  I held my breath as I opened the mailbox door on September 12th in anticipation of what I might find.  Day one brought me 30 envelopes.  Day two brought more than 100.  When the stopped arriving, I had 148 envelopes from all over the United States, some from Canada, The Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand and Italy.  The clerks at the post office were fascinated by what was passing through their hands and I was deeply touched by the e-mails I began to receive. 
 

 

In the second year I was able to spread the word further through the internet and an article in Somerset Studio magazine.  The response grew and the collection now houses thousands of envelopes, all small artworks remembering that fateful day.  I like to think of the artists’ journey to the post office to mail their envelope as their personal parade in honor of those who were lost and those who helped so selflessly.  
 
As with art throughout history, this mail art reflects the heart and soul of each artist.  It serves to express their feelings far beyond words.  I came to realize that the Remember September Mail Art Memorial “call” must be done each year for the results will serve as a powerful history of how we recall that painful day as time passes. 
 
In the beginning, I provided artists with a CD that included all submissions from that year.  That quickly became cost prohibitive (I have been paying for all of this myself) and I decided to launch a web site instead.  I think this is best because now the art work can be shared with the world.  I hope you will consider adding to the collection in coming years

 

 
Click here to read an article about Remember September featured on the Artella website, 2002