Project coordinator Dalia Shevin

Artist Dalia Shevin is the Love Letters Project coordinator.

A visual love letter

A visual love letter....

One Thousand Love Letters: Write One!

Did you ever want to express your love to someone but weren't sure how to do it? Or perhaps you wanted to write a heartfelt letter but never quite got around to it? This February you will have your chance.

"One Thousand Love Letters" is a project conceived by local artists to create a participatory community art installation that is both an invitation and a challenge. The project organizers hope is to create a space for deep gratitude and an exploration of love in all its forms.

Beginning during Gallery Walk on Friday, February 1, and culminating two weeks later on the Friday after Valentine's Day, the public will be invited to a temporary space in downtown Brattleboro, to write one thousand love letters. According to project coordinator Dalia Shevin, participants can define a love letter as broadly as they like: "Letters may be written to people living or dead, people known or unknown to them, to animals, places, or even objects -- anyone or anything to whom they wish to express their love."

Love Letters project envelope with message

A salute to the Postal Service is on each envelope: "This object traveled from my hands to yours, across time and space, with the help of many people unknown to either of us. It's kind of a miracle."

While it is expected that letters which convey romantic love will certainly be written, in this context a love letter may express any number of things, says Shevin. "It could be a thank-you note, a letter of condolence, an anonymous secret-admirer message, a child's drawing for her parent, a note of appreciation to your motorcycle, a letter of gratitude to an author or musician, an elegy for an extinct species or perhaps an ode to your beloved dog."

"The planning for this project has been a whirlwind," Shevin explains. "I had the idea at the end of November, and a friend suggested I try Kickstarter, an online crowd-funding site, to help raise the money for the project. I launched the web page and within four hours we had raised our goal. As of now, we've more than tripled our initial requested amount." Shevin adds, "This idea has obviously touched a nerve."

The letters will be written and some displayed in the Letter Lab, a temporary studio and gallery located in the storefront of the former Sanel Auto Parts building at 47 Flat Street in Brattleboro. The space has been transformed by local artists to create a beautiful environment that will provide a warm spot to sit and relax into the tactile experience of handwriting or typing a love letter. Side by side with neighbors and strangers, participants will have the opportunity to write their hearts out. Visitors will also be able to view some of the love letters on display during the run of the project.

The Letter Lab will be open daily from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m., and hot tea and cocoa will be available to help warm participants' hearts. There will also be a late-night love letter writing marathon beginning at noon on February 9 and ending at 1 a.m. the next day. The One Thousand Love Letters project will end with an evening performance of letter reading and music on Friday, February 15. Letters will be mailed at the end of the project or be made available for participants to pick up.

"I'm excited about the project," says Shevin, "and I think the timing is right for Brattleboro. The community has been through a lot of challenges and sadness of various kinds in the past couple of years. This project will be an opportunity for the community to come together and do what we do best. Brattleboro is a place that really values art and the written word." In addition to whatever hopes and dreams participants have for their letters, Shevin envisions that "the project will also be a love letter to the people of Brattleboro, an expression of love for the act of letter writing itself, and even a symbolic love letter to our imperiled United States Postal Service! Folks can write as many letters as they want, of any length. Materials will be supplied, and writing prompts and ideas will be available to help get you started. All you need to bring is a desire to express your love."

Copyright 2013, Gallery Walk, Brattleboro, Vermont

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