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Motherland/Fatherland           -                     2002 by W. C. "Bill" Porter

Artistamps accepted into museums' permanent collection

Motherland/Fatherland artistamp sheet created by W. C. `Bill` Porter for the Museum of Moscow artist call. 2002 W. C. `
    Bill` Porter All Rights ReservedIn early 2002, the Museum of Moscow (Russia) issued an artist call for submissions of artistamps based on the theme: Motherland/Fatherland. The call was sent out in the form of an invitation. I received their invitation via email. Needless to say, I was quite flattered to receive it.

Although there was a great amount of negative debate on several Yahoo groups I participated with - because this was a "sanctioned" call by a conventional art museum. And even worse, there was judging involved. A definite no-no in the anti-conventional art mailart realm.

The judging process involved two steps: The first judging was to be performed to determine what artistamp entries would be included in the exhibition. If you made it through the first cut, the second judging would be to decide which stamp submissions were to become a part of the museum's permanent collection.

For a few of the mail artists in the Yahoo groups, this was strictly against the grassroot "rules" of mail art and not something to be condoned. For me, I didn't see myself as anything so pure and elite. Or self-righteous for that matter, to preclude me as to not accept the invitation and at least try to produce something worthy enough for the Museum's call.

On a weekend outing with my wife, Kathy Lou, it dawned on me while we were driving the backroads in remote, eastern Utah, that if I were to meet the Moscow deadline for the call, I'd better get busy. The deadline was just two or three weeks away. Mail from rural Colorado to Moscow would undoubtedly take the better part of ten days transit time. But at that moment, I didn't have a clue as to what I would create in answer to the artistamp call.

Several days later, I awoke one morning at nearly 3 am. As I sat up in bed, it hit me. I somehow knew exactly what my submission would be. I knew which images I would use for the stamps, and the message I wanted to convey. Both visually, and in this case, verbally. The Motherland/Fatherland call also required a written artists' statement to accompany all submissions. I'd never done this before, so it was a new challenge to me. But to keep things as simple as possible, I decided that my artists' statement would not be seperate from the sheet of stamps. Instead, it would permanently be a part of the stamp sheet. [To view my Motherland/Fatherland statement in a more readable form, click here.]

By ten o:clock that same morning, my Motherland/Fatherland sheet (shown above) was in the mail. There were only 7 actual sheets of this design made. Sheet number one went to the Museum of Moscow. Sheets two and three went to Jas Felter, owner/curator of the 5-Cinq museum in Vancouver, Canada. Jas was a co-conspirator - and co-curator - with the Russian museum officials in organizing the Motherland/Fatherland project. One sheet of the artistamps went to my parents, a sheet was mailed to my mailart friend, Clemente Padin, publisher of the Southern Post, for his personal collection; and, a sheet was broken up to decorate the mailings with. Sheet number 7 and an artist's proof sheet are framed and on walls both at my home and my office.

Needless to say, after several weeks of waiting, I was thrilled to learn the museum judges' decisions. Not only did my Motherland/Fatherland artistamp sheets make the first cut for the month-long artistamp exhibit. My stamps, conceived apparently while I slept in the middle of the night and created virtually last minute. Would find themselves hanging alongside who-knows-what great masterpieces of art, in the permanent collection at Russia's Museum of Moscow.

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To view the Museum of Moscow's online exhibit, click this link:

The four images used in creating the stamps are (L-R, top-to-bottom): a night shot photographed at about midnight under moonlight in late 2001; a studio image of Indian corn I shot for a magazine cover in 1979; my favorite photograph of ancient mammoth petroglyphs, captured digitally to document a petroglyph site discovery in New Mexico, June 1999; and, a 1977 image of a lovely nude enjoying the Gila River on a warm summer (late) afternoon. Photographed near the Gila Cliff Dwellings, just north of Silver City, New Mexico.

For posterity sake, it should also be noted that these seven sheets of Motherland/Fatherland stamps were printed on non-gummed, photo quality paper with an inkjet printer. Sheets are pin-hole perforated. The seven sheets were produced on 4Apr2002. Numerical indexes are 04.04.2002.25-28. (All photographs used in creating Motherland/Fatherland stamps were made by W. C. "Bill" Porter and, as such are copyrighted with all rights reserved.)


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