If you’ve spent any time in the Sage Art Center this semester, you may have noticed the small but colorful MART Crew dropbox. Campus Times Presentations Chief Sarah Woodams sat down with the creator of MART Crew, Angelica Aranda, to learn more about it.

Answers have been lightly edited for grammar, clarity, and/or style.

For those who don’t know, what is MART Crew?

MART Crew is a mail art exchange (it stands for mailed art). Meaning that everyone makes a piece and then […] I swap them and you get a piece back. The format is four by five inches so they can be easily mailed in an envelope. I’m going to make a zine with the pieces I got from this round.

All of the submissions were due on Oct. 15 and everything should be sent out on Nov. 21. I gave myself about a month of wiggle room to put the zine together and figure out what’s going to who.

What inspired you to start MART Crew? 

So, over the summer I became a New York State funded artist through Creators Rebuild New York (CRNY). It’s a one-time grant for New York State low-income artists. If you get it, you receive a monthly income for the next 18 months to do your practice. I was lucky enough to get it and I figured when will I ever have 18 months of being paid for being an artist again, so I wanted to make something from that. Why not give my time to the space that allowed me to get to this place? That was the first time I got paid to do what I do.I figured now that I have the time on my hands to work towards being an artist and that I’ve seen so much good work here at UR I just felt like there had to be some way to collect it all and show it all in one collection. I didn’t want to take on a curatorial role and decide what’s worthy of being in the zine; I just want to share the fact that so many of us do art here at UR. We’re not just a STEM school.

You mentioned in the MART Crew booklet that your original major was not studio art. What was it and what led you to Studio Art and bookmaking specifically?

I came into UR a Political Science major, track in elections and government. I’ve always been fascinated with bureaucracy and lawmaking ever since I was a kid. I had this whole plan to go to law school — I even have LSAT books. I started to feel in sophomore year that the field was not the right outlet for me to make the world a better place, and I started to feel disenchantment with the idea of politics. I went abroad for DIS Terrorism and Counterterrorism to try and figure out if it was what I really wanted to do. That really solidified the fact that I don’t want to get into politics. Then I did Art New York in my Junior spring which solidified the fact that I wanted to do art. I’m a person of extremes. I needed to make sure I was fully enthralled with my major. 

Bookmaking started during my time in Denmark. I took two art classes while I was there: Women, Art, and Identity, and a watercolor class. The Women, Art, and Identity class was really special because the professor would take us to a lot of women-owned spaces and  museums. I met a gallery owner and she introduced me to the artist book. It was the first time I saw that you could take something like photography and make it something else by putting it in a book and manipulating it physically. Then later on during Art New York we had art book day which is when I knew I wanted to focus on bookmaking.

What’s happening with MART Crew now? 

I got around 40 sign ups for MART Crew and 22 submissions, which is pretty good. So now I’m sorting and scanning them. I’m going to do the redistribution randomly. It’s interesting because a lot of the work is two-dimensional but nobody went more three-dimensional with layers or anything. I only received one photo entry. I was surprised with how many alumni who live outside of Rochester participated. One of them actually wrote me a note saying thank you for organizing this and that they haven’t been in an art class since school.

Why the physical zine format?

It would be easier and cheaper — because I’m funding all of this — if I sent an email with everyone’s scanned piece, but there’s something fun about getting something in the mail. Also, everything is so digital these days — we have to have physicality for things sometimes. If everyone who participated made work for this, they deserve to get something back too.

What are your future plans for MART Crew? 

I always want to keep it so that if you participate you get the zine for free. I was thinking about opening it up to a wider audience than UR students and alumni cause I’m curious how that would go. I want to keep it going somehow, even though I’m graduating this year. I want to have it be biannual, so two a year. I’d like to keep it going, wherever I end up. It’s a lot of work organizing it, but I think I’ll be able to make the time for it with an hour or two on weekends. I also was thinking about some friends I have who are sophomores and juniors and see if they want to carry the torch here at UR with the dropbox at Sage.

Keep an eye out for a call for spring zine submissions in January!

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