Mary Welcome is using her time in residence to expand the creative research already spanning over a decade in “God Bless the USPS,” a performative endurance research project which she began with a spontaneous photo of the post office in her hometown of Palouse, Washington in 2012. By meticulously photographing and archiving post office buildings across the country (with special attention to remote, rural, and neighborhood posts), she is building a vernacular map of our communications commons as a nation. She thinks of them like “a fingerprint of the place.” Surel’s Place gives her an opportunity to explore, research, interview, and photograph post offices across Boise, Ada, Elmore, Canyon, and Gem counties.
This research manifests across mediums, though most conservatively as a digital archive and mapping project. Mary is interested in the character of the USPS commons of southern Idaho: their stewardship, their stories, and their futures. The way this research is presented on this night will be specific to our community. The portraits and interviews may shift mediums, taking shape as exhibitions, performances, installations, sound recordings, publications, postcards, advocacy tools, and more. She is adding these Idaho post offices to over 2,000 she’s already captured, but there are still nearly 18,000 left to go.