This week, Art 110 has the class sending care packages to their friends or loved ones. We were instructed to send anything of value or meaning to our desired recipients, and I immediately thought of my parents and sister. My mother, father, and 12-year-old sister all live near San Francisco, so they haven’t had the chance to see me very often since I arrived in Long Beach for college. Also I realized that young men away from home call their parents far less often than women, making this project a great reason to reach out. It contains two pieces of art from previous weeks to let them know how my class is going. There’s a stuffed puppy from the dollar store for my sister, a pleasant surprise found in the solemn store where I buy occasional necessities. My mom’s bag and coffee mug are inside too, from when she helped me move into my apartment in August. The ramen is there to show my parents what a college diet must sometimes resort to, although I haven’t gotten tired of it yet.
Other forms of communication are great for quick notes and conversations, but they always feel less genuine than mailed letters or packages. Snapchat is super fun and efficient, but it requires zero effort and the receiver knows it. The care package obviously takes noticeable effort. I will be packaging it, driving to the post office, getting the correct shipping labels, paying a small shipping fee, and finally going back home. This extra effort will receive a far better response than if I sent a thread of emojis with the same items. The tangibility of care package items provide a physical viewing effect not possible from a phone screen.
Ephemera is immensely valuable in a sentimental sense. Objects that have a personal, historical significance will always be worth more than any single purchased object, to the specific owner. I bet nearly any person in a random location would choose to save their childhood family photos over their car. Things that cannot be replaced will always come first for most people.
Art that is meant for anyone has a high likelihood of being received positively, but it always has a capping point. The Mona Lisa can only inspire a certain level of feeling in a person. However, this is contrasted by small, personal art. Leonardo da Vinci probably felt a wave of emotion not possible for anyone else by seeing his creation become real. It was personal, and could have meant everything. A care package full of little trinkets will only effect several people, but in the most profound way possible. Broad audience art is like a football stadium light shining on a crowd, while personal art is a single-focus laser.