Participatory, democratic, personal and expressive, as a form of artwork, Mail Art is sent, given or exchanged via the postal service. A work of artwork becomes Mail Art once it is dispatched, disappearing forever from the artist's hands. Mail Artists form networks and faithfully participate in them by pouring a steady stream of unique art objects into the quotidian postal system. Mail Artists also regularly call for topical or thematic Mail Art for exhibition. Mail Art forms a community of like minded artists. Each piece of Mail Art is unique and often a collage that might aggressively engage social, artistic, and hot topic political issues or might harvest images from pop culture. All forms of material and artistic techniques come into play. Mail Art explores the material nature of language. Rubber stamps, stickers, paint and other material are frequently combined in Mail Art collage. After artistic treatment, items such as common post cards to plastic bottles enter into the Mail Art network.
Ray Johnson is credited as the founder of contemporary Mail Art. In the late 1950s, he founded the New York Correspondence School, and the New York Correspondence School bunny is an image frequently collaged into works of Mail Art.
The Poetry Collection's Mail Art Archive includes collections donated by The Sticker Dude, Baron and Luc Fierens. It also draws from The Poetry Collection's John M Bennett Collection, The Hallwalls Collection and the general holdings of The Poetry Collection.