Received: Negative Space Mail-Art from Visual Poet Matthew Stolte (Madison, Wisconsin, USA)

Mail-art by IUOMA member Matthew Stolte (Madison, Wisconsin, USA)


December 16, 2010 - The 11.3 Days of Mail-Art Vispo Marathon continues thanks to Matthew Stolte who sent me this postcard-size piece. IUOMA is a great place to find mail-artists whose interests match yours thanks to the online portfolios, groups, and discussions. I first saw Matt's work here and recognized someone - in my estimation - who is a very accomplished visual poet. This was confirmed further when I saw more of his work in Mehrl Bennett's (Columbus, Ohio, USA) photostream on flickr. Matthew is doing some superb digital (or digitized) vispo work. Wisconsin is simply a center for vispo. There is Miekal And - it would take about five blogs to tell you about that, why it's important, and I don't know the whole story. There is David-Baptiste Chirot in Milwaukee. Angie Cope is in the Milwaukee area too. Anyway..


This mail-art from Matt is interesting to me because he uses the concept of negative space to create the word. Conceptually, the word is empty space, defined by the solidity of the color that surrounds it. This is a reversal of our ordinary expectation of the printed or written word. The word is substance surrounded by symbolic nothingness. Here, there is a suggestion of nothingness in the word surrounded by substance. I could almost convince myself there might have been some intent here because the "E" is so conveniently melding into the larger nothingness of the white field that is the primary foundation of the piece. You can do interesting things with negative space, I think.


Matthew Stolte's mail-art also reminded me that poet Tom Clark did a great piece on his blog two months ago about Aram Saroyan's minimalist poetry. I believe Saroyan is still probably best known (or notorious) for the one-word poem. When you consider vispo routinely uses fractured, single letters from the alphabet, perhaps the Saroyan legacy has been extended. Why did Matthew choose to send me the word "CRUDE"? There are numerous possibilities, but I'm going with the idea, that like so many other things, it's about oil. Here's the reverse side:

Thanks for your friendship, Matt. I hope we continue to trade. Matthew Stolte has a great blog that has links to some other vispo sources. Don't let the name fool you, it's FDA approved:




The current year will bring you much happiness. (By popular demand, these are the direct words the Mail-Art psychic sent me without dharmadada editing.)

Mail-art typo for the day: Spell Chick (Spill Check)

Mail-art color of the day: [        ]





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Comment by De Villo Sloan on December 18, 2010 at 8:40pm

Hi Helen, great to hear from you, a more detailed message forthcoming. The projects you're participating in are fabulous. Matthew Stolte has some great vispo links on his blog. I've spent some time there myself and plan on spending more.



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