The Asheville Art Museum is pleased to present its first Digital Exhibition, organized by Alex Landry, summer 2022 curatorial intern for museum diversity. Dear Lorna, Love Ray features letters written by Ray Johnson to Lorna Blaine Halper while Johnson was a student at Black Mountain College. The letters reveal snippets of daily life at the college, Johnson’s experience of his growth as an artist, and early examples of Mail art, a movement that Johnson helped found.
Read below for a short statement from Landry on the project and click here to experience Dear Lorna, Love Ray.
“I like to think Ray Johnson came to me as opposed to the other way around. Poking out from between bulletins, posters, and other ephemera related to Black Mountain College were these doodles in handmade envelopes. Their edges were neatly cut and their contents carefully folded. Despite being composed of scraps and written on with crayons, their maker found them precious. These letters no doubt arose out of an entirely different Ray Johnson than the one we know today: the infamous prankster, the dodgy interviewee, the collagist. In 1947, Johnson was on the precipice of his career, unsure of his next move but excited to see the slow trickle of his network of friends growing across the country. As a young, queer graduate student trying to navigate and find my place in the art world, I find this Johnson profoundly relatable. It is my hope that this digital exhibition adds yet another layer of meaning to “New York’s most famous unknown artist,” to the grand amalgamation that is Ray Johnson.”
—Alex Landry, summer 2022 curatorial intern for museum diversity
This digitization project is supported in part by North Carolina Humanities, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.