Publication Date

Summer 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Art and Art History


Dore Bowen


correspondence art, craft, Fluxus, mail art, networking, Ray Johnson

Subject Areas

Art history


This thesis examines two threads in the history of mail art: a networking approach dedicated to open participation and a crafted approach dedicated to the art object. It then follows these two threads across three generations. Mail art is an international phenomenon that evolved over the past sixty odd years due to the efforts of a dedicated and growing group of individuals. American artist Ray Johnson and the international artistic group operating under the banner of Fluxus are discussed as establishing mail art as a separate form through their creation of the mail art network. The generation that followed Johnson and Fluxus expanded on the free and open ethos of the mail art network, making it a cornerstone of mail art practice and embracing new technology. Finally, this study examines work by contemporary mail artists who have not yet been historicized and who return to a craft approach in the production of mail art. Using Glenn Adamson's theory of craft, this thesis concludes that craft is an equally pertinent aspect of mail art practice and that, although it is underemphasized in mail art's first two generations, it is a dominant factor in the production of mail art today.