When my maternal grandmother passed way, I still had many things to say to her but it was too late. For the next year and a half I wrote many letters to her, as if she were still alive, in order to share my thoughts and feelings with her.
For The Letter Writing Project, I invited visitors to write the letters they had always meant to but never taken time for. Each of three writing booths, constructed of wood and translucent glass, contained a desk and writing materials. Visitors could enter one of the three booths and write a letter to a deceased or otherwise absent loved one, offering previously unexpressed gratitude, forgiveness or apology. They could then seal and address their letters (for posting by the museum) or leave them unsealed in one of the slots on the wall of the booth, where later visitors could read them. Many later visitors come to realize, through reading the letters of others that they too carried unexpressed feelings that they would feel relieved to write down and perhaps share. In this way, a chain of feeling was created, reminding visitors of the larger world of emotions in which we all participate. In the end, it was the spirit of the writer that was comforted, whether the letter was ever read by the intended recipient or others.
Commissioned by Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 1998.