Last Wednesday, the Department of Visual Studies Student Society hosted their annual Postcard Pen Pal Project in the Student Centre’s Red Room. Last year’s colourful postcards hung by clothespins on a string. Each postcard had its own story and its own design. More recent postcards were featured in a slideshow.
Advertising and communications director Olivia Zaloski welcomed me with a warm handshake, followed by an even warmer hug as I entered the Red Room for the Pen Pal Party.
“I love that we host this event every year,” says Zaloski. “I love being a part of DVSSS, because it is the only club we have on campus for artists. Since the art students from UTM take classes at Sheridan, UTM misses out on having studios and spaces to display our work. I think the Pen Pal Project is a great way to unite artists here on campus, regardless of their year or major.”
After signing up for the Postcard Pen Pal Project, DVSSS provides each participant with a postcard and supplies. Participants can create a piece of art in whatever medium they desire: paint, pencil, and even digital design. Some works of art take up the whole postcard, while others use a minimal approach. Once submitted, the cards are chosen at random and given to another person participating in the project. The selected participants are then mailed the other’s postcard. All postcard creators and recipients are united at the Pen Pal Party, where many sets of random people are brought together through their love of art.
“When I first took part in the Postcard Pen Pal Project, I was nervous as to what my pen pal was going to say—would they like my art? Would they like the colour combinations? Would they understand it? But when I first met with the person, they loved it. They said, ‘I loved the way you used these blues’ and ‘I like how it differs from mine,’” Zaloski explains. “It is such a nice feeling getting to share your art with others.”
The Postcard Pen Pal Project encouraged the vice president of DVSSS, Hannah Taylor, to join the club.
“We encourage anyone to participate because it’s not about being the best artist in the world. It’s about doing something for someone else and building a sense of community,” says Taylor.
The event also inspired Kineta Wirahardja to become secretary of DVSSS.
“DVSSS is still such a small society. I love being a part of a community with creative people. You don’t see that a lot here at UTM. That’s actually one of our goals this year —to bring back creativity to UTM, since most of the creative people are back at Sheridan,” says Wirahardja. “Just seeing the postcards and meeting up with your pen pal is so rewarding. It can also lead to new relationships, since a lot of people who partake are into photography and different kinds of art. I think the project brings creative people together in a new way. It’s great too because it opens the door for new relationships.”.
Contributors and guests to the Postcard Pen Pal Project were enthusiastic about the event. The main feature of the project that people admired was how it brought people together in different ways. DVSSS aims to resurrect creativity and artistic passion at UTM in a way that involves the whole community. The Pen Pal Project actively brings this goal to life each year.