Does your heart echo with words you never had the chance to say, with feelings you could not express?
In The Letter Writing Project visitors are invited to write a letter to a deceased or absent loved one, expressing feelings of forgiveness, apology, or gratitude. They can leave the letter unsealed for other visitors to read, or sealed with an address for the Museum to post.
After his maternal grandmother passed away in the late 1990s, artist Lee Mingwei wrote many letters to her as if she were still alive, sharing thoughts and emotions he had waited too long to express. Lee describes The Letter Writing Project as a meaningful gift exchange between the visitor and the artist, one that can provide a cathartic release for participants. It is an opportunity to experience trust, and recognize the ever-changing relationship between givers and recipients.
Since the work debuted in 1998, the artist has collected over one hundred thousand letters, some unsealed and others sealed with no address. Lee plans to perform a fire ceremony to release the deep emotions written in the letters.
Since opening, the Rubin has received 556 letters.
The Letter Writing Project is on view in Measure Your Existence (February 7–August 10, 2020).
Lee Mingwei (b. 1964, Taichung, Taiwan; lives and work in Paris and New York City); The Letter Writing Project; 1998; wood and glass; courtesy of Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of the artist in honor of Flora Miller Biddle and purchase, with funds from Joanne Leonhardt Cassullo and the Dorothea L. Leonhardt Fund at the Communities Foundation of Texas; 99.54a; on view in “Measure Your Existence” at the Rubin Museum of Art, February 7–August 10, 2020; photograph by Jason Wyche; Rubin Museum of Art