RECEIVED: Mail-Art of the Visionary Company from Ruth Schowalter (Decatur, Georgia, USA)

Mail-art by IUOMA member Ruth Schowalter (Decatur, Georgia, USA)

 

June 24, 2011 - Ruth Schowalter - aka Hallelujah Truth - sent me this stunning, wonderfully colorful piece that is a fine representation of her very distinctive style.

 

Ruth is a native of the southern United States. I remember her earlier work, some of it I think of as truly groundbreaking, which was done at a time when concrete poetry was evolving into something else, which we know best today as visual poetry - vispo. It's fascinating to me to see how an individual coming out of a cultural crucible of emerging L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poetry, dispersing Fluxus (they were with us too), and the seeming triumph of critical theory has grown and changed. And, yes, Ruth has definitely been in the network before. She certainly transcended the debris of the endless poetry wars.

 

The particulars of Ruth Schowalter's evolution as an artist are unknown to me. My immediate response to this mail-art, other than finding complete joy in it, is to note an affinity to folk art, African-American culture, and a Caribbean influence, all of which definitely have a presence on the U.S. Gulf Coast. As a landmark to identify this, think of the amazing cultural mix in New Orleans, Louisiana. I wonder if I'm even close in naming influences. The southern states are also known as the Bible Belt, an area where you find Christianity expressed through speaking in tongues, snake handlers, and extraordinary visions and raptures - while maybe an undercurrent to the mainstream which has permeated everything, it's part of everyday life. Here's the reverse side:

 


Ruth Schowalter's work I also think is distinctly in the visionary tradition. While it expresses visionary states and spiritual worlds, it can also be seen as a direct connection to the unconscious. All those twining creatures that make the work so fascinating - a Jungian could go to town finding archetypes and applying dream interpretation. Jackson Pollock's early work, right before be moved into abstract expressionism, is very similar to Ruth's - and Pollock underwent deep Jungian therapy at that time. I definitely see a ghost of visual poetry here; perhaps this IS a kind of visual poetry. The images have a syntactic structure, mirroring phrases and sentences. Text and images mix. Yet this is completely UNLIKE current verbal-visual work. For that reason, it presents some exciting possibilities.

 

Tremendous, Ruth! I look forward to more exchanges. Ruth has a GREAT blog where you can see more work and get more background info. Hey, Arttower (German) and E (France) are already followers:


http://coffeewithhallelujah.blogspot.com/


 


 

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Comment by De Villo Sloan on June 26, 2011 at 8:07pm

CB, Ruth is active these days. As ex-cons say: "We did hard time together." I'm really not sure if she intended it, but some of this work reminds of things you see associated with Santeria http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santer%C3%ADa

which is present in the Caribbean region. Yip, I see Chagall now that you point it out - a stunning amalgam of influences brought together into something very distinctive. Not your average mail-art, were it possible for there to be such a thing in a place where everybody is so obviously above average.

Comment by Marie Wintzer on June 26, 2011 at 11:23am
(The girl floating in the first picture is a bit Chagall like). I think this is a wonderful card, you do get amazing things DVS.
Comment by De Villo Sloan on June 25, 2011 at 6:43pm
Hi again Lynda, I looked in your IUOMA folder - really great work! I like the animal pics especially, owls. You know, I do see a connection to folk art. They make me think of the incredible "primitive" paintings in American art in the 18th and 19th century - the art is very good and accurate in terms of composition, but they are somehow askew in terms of exact proportions - so you get this expressionist quality - extremely collectible. Great stuff! We usually don't get into this area with mail-art. Thanks again for your comments.
Comment by Lynda Jo Thornbrugh on June 25, 2011 at 5:06pm
It is folk art that first inspired me to art....tho Ive never created anything that looks like it:)
Comment by De Villo Sloan on June 25, 2011 at 4:32pm
Hi Lynda Jo, I'm glad you appreciate Ruth's art the way I do. The colors in the original are spectacular. I also remembered that art like this that defies easy labels is also called "outsider" art. Mail-art is very supportive of this. David Baptiste-Chirot pointed out to me not too long ago that in the U.S., Georgia and Wisconsin have the highest concentrations of outsider artists.
Comment by Lynda Jo Thornbrugh on June 25, 2011 at 3:59pm
I love it! Its expressive and colorful- jam packed with Hallelujahruth, one might say....I look forward to perusing her blog! Thanks for sharing!

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