It is generally and correctly understood among those who participated in the crest of the mail art movement in the late sixties and early seventies that Ray Johnson was the founder of the New York Correspondence School and foremost proponent of mailing activity. And while there have been a few exhibitions enthusiastically supported by growing numbers of mail artists, there has not been proper emphasis credited to Johnson as a communication artist. It is overwhelming to conceive of the amount of material that Ray Johnson has sent through the mail over the years and of the numbers of individuals with which he has made contact and continues to amuse, entertain, irritate, and educate.
This exhibition represents only a sampling of his communication efforts despite the fact that it is the largest assemblage ever of his work. Over 1,000 items were submitted for consideration in the exhibition by more than 100 lenders from across the country and abroad.
As we view and read these unique missives, let us keep in mind that we are in a sense reading over the lender's shoulder, being let in on a one-sided conversation, and what we see may very well be mysterious and obscure for that reason. As suggested by one of our lenders, Lillian Kiesler, it would be nice if the letters show stimulated the art of letter writing in its most inventive sense, as Ray Johnson has done.
Excerpt by Moussa M. Domit as published in the exhibition catalogue.
North Carolina Museum of Art
2110 Blue Ridge Road
Raleigh, North Carolina 27607-6407