The Collective

The old-fashioned pleasure of sending and receiving art by mail, from The Graey

The Graey's members, all in their teens and early 20s, are part of the most digitally connected generation in human history — so it's only natural that their Collective video would harken back to an earlier, more personal form of creative expression: mail art.

"Anyone can pick up a brush, or pick up a camera, and create art — at any point."

In this short doc, The Graey, a youth art collective from Vancouver, examines what makes it so special to receive a handmade piece of art in the mail in the days of ubiquitous electronic communication. 5:53

This video is part of The Collective, a CBC Arts digital project that invites artists to tell their own stories. Learn more about the project, and watch more Collective videos.

The Graey is a collective of youth artists originally based out of the Satellite Gallery in Vancouver. The collective's members, all in their teens and early 20s, are part of the most digitally connected generation in human history — so it's only natural that their Collective video would harken back to an earlier, more personal form of creative expression: mail art. And if you feel inspired by what you see, you are very welcome to send them some of your own mail art. Their address is at the end of the video.

Here's what The Graey's Josh Zuckermanm had to say about his collective and the video they produced.

How did The Graey Collective get its start?
The Graey Collective has been around since 2013. These days there are nine of us, between the ages of 17-20. Most of our work revolves around the visual arts, and we try to produce a project every month or two months.

Your video focuses on mail art. What's the story there?
Mail art was started by an artist named Ray Johnson back in the '60s and '70s. The idea is that, literally, what you're sending has to be the art. So even if it's an envelope, you'd decorate and paint the envelope. There's a bit of fun to it; a bit of a challenge: 'What can I send? If it's going in a package, how can I turn this package into a piece of art?' It sort of aims to prove that you really can put anything in the mail.

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      Speaking of which — can you really put a piece of toast in the mail?
      There are some limitations… But if you glue it and make it solid, then yeah! One of our members did it. She put white glue on the toast, put a stamp on it, and wrote the address across the front with glitter glue. And it got to a friend, and it worked out. Really, we haven't encountered anything that couldn't be sent. As long as it's not dangerous, it's not too heavy and it will stay together, you can pretty much send anything!

      Why did you choose to focus on mail art in this piece?
      Mail art helps to unify and connect us as artists with people in other places. And mail itself is a lost art. For the most part, if you mail something, it's your taxes or your phone bill. Whereas with mail art — or even a handwritten letter — you put your time into it, you put your soul into it. People are intrigued, and they want to reciprocate. It's a unique way of bringing people together.

      What do you hope people will take away from your film?
      We really just want to send the message that anyone can get into this. Anyone can pick up a brush, or pick up a camera, and create art — at any point. There are a lot of people who are either too scared, or think it's too hard to do. But really anyone can. In our video, we put out a call for mail art. Our hope is that if enough people send us their art, we can do a gallery showing — and even send them back another piece of art in return.

      More about The Graey

      The Graey is a youth artist collective based at Satellite Gallery. Our collective practice explores the in-betweens and gray areas of navigating the Vancouver art scene. Despite the eclectic nature of our individual experiences, as a collective are interested in engaging with the contemporary art community of Vancouver and creating public interventions that respond to our city. The Graey has also collaborated on public art projects, staged interventions in the gallery space, published zines, and participated in gallery events.

      To learn more about The Graey, check out their Tumblrwebsite or Facebook


      Produced by:
      Avery Hannig
      ​Kiel Torres
      Josh Zuckermann
      Yasmine Whaley-Kalaora
      Erin Pan
      Danaan Cordoni
      ​Toni Cheung
      Terrance Gatchalian
      ​Kacey Ng

      Maximus Chaperon
      Bianca Gueco

      Rainer Johnson
      Benjamin Morris

      Daniel "DPH" Patrick Howard