Hill 'yarnbomber' a part of 'Save Post Office' project

by Len Lear
Posted 12/24/20

The goal is for unique collaborative artworks to be created while also helping raise money for the USPS.

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Hill 'yarnbomber' a part of 'Save Post Office' project

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Chestnut Hill artist Melissa Maddonni Haims is one of many artists nationwide who have contributed their artworks to the “USPS Art Project,” a collaborative project created by Christina Massey, a Brooklyn Based sculptor and curator. Massey says it is “a movement in art-making to help save the U.S. Postal Service that is free and open to any artist in the country who wants to participate.”

The goal is for unique collaborative artworks to be created while also helping raise money for the USPS by purchasing postage for shipping artworks to other artists and galleries. Artworks are shared online on the @USPSArtProject social media.

The project's spokespeople say it is no secret that Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, who was placed in his job in June of this year by President Trump (DeJoy contributed more than $1.2 million to Trump's campaign in 2016), did everything he could to suppress the mostly pro-Biden mail-in votes this fall by eliminating sorting machines and employee overtime, uprooting mailboxes on city streets, etc.

Hundreds of artists have joined in the project, creating sculpture, paintings, drawings, mixed media, fiber art, etc. Many artists are submitting their finished works for a non-juried traveling exhibition throughout the U.S. Many works in the shows are available for sale (online and in person) and can be found at uspsartproject.com

Haims, the Chestnut Hill artist, creates knit graffiti, soft sculpture and large scale installations using knitted and crocheted yarns. She also sews unconventional quilts using vintage fabrics and subversive text. “The majority of my work is produced using recycled, reclaimed and rescued textile materials,” she said.

Haims is also known for her “yarnbombing,” the covering of objects or structures in public places with decorative knitted or crocheted material, as a form of street art. Melissa has done this on telephone poles and trees on Chestnut Hill streets.

There are currently over 1,000 artworks created by hundreds of artists for the U.S. Postal Service Art Project. In Philadelphia, the project hosted a virtual opening of an exhibit of these works on Dec. 9. But many of the works can be seen in person at the InLiquid Artist Studio Gallery, Park Towne Place, 2200 Benjamin Franklin Blvd. One may see the exhibition in the flesh any Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., through Jan. 17.

Haims invited painter Donna Quinn to collaborate on two works for two concurrent exhibitions, one in Denver and one in the U.S.P.S. Project at the InLiquid Gallery at Park Towne Place, not far from the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Quinn’s paintings on paper serve as a ground upon which Haims’ fiber work punctures the surface, leaving a trail of sutures on its skin. Haims started with several dozen 5” squares of Quinn’s paintings on paper. Her challenge was to distill the number of pieces into something cohesive that would serve as a foundation for her fiber work.

Working with a 12” limit, she employed quilting techniques, positioning the paper on the surface and mimicking the mark-making with embroidery floss and sewing thread. She used yarn to pull the piece together on all sides, while hyperbolic crochet embellishment reflects the organic nature of the painting.

According to Haims: “It was a lot tricker than I thought it would be. While I live with Donna’s work in my home, and we’ve shown our work together in the past, I never thought about how I could collaborate with her with these two very different materials. It took me a lot longer than I thought it would. There was a lot of trial and error.”
Quinn added, “Handing over a stack of small paintings to Melissa was an act of faith and a complete surrender to someone whose process I am familiar with. I am more than pleased with the outcome and just delighted that she took the time to highlight my mark-making.”

The USPS Art Project can be seen in person only by appointment due to Covid-19 safety measures. For an appointment, email clare@inliquid.org or call 215-235-3405. Len Lear can be reached at lenlear@chestnuthilllocal.com

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