My Wall of Humanity

Recently I cleaned out a box and came across hundreds of postcards that I had purchased over the years. I guess the more adult I become, the more real art I hang, the less likely I am to plaster my walls with the detritus of my travel. Since we did our house renovation in 2014 there has been this very large wall in my office just waiting for something. What I wanted was a giant bulletin board that I could litter with all sorts of things that I like to look at. Photos, postcards, pages from magazines, spent tickets from trips. But do you know how hard that is for someone who is a totally incapable of DIY projects? And who do you call to source an appropriate material and install it? And what would a 12-foot long bulletin board look like? Anything shorter would look ridiculous.

The wall has been a big white whale–albeit a lovely one in Benjamin Moore Moonlight White (OC-125)–for about five years. But five months of working from home had me hankering for something to look at. So when I came across the box of postcards I thought I would do something about it.

Not all postcards are the same size and so I ended up with some funky narrow spaces that needed to be filled. So I ended up using some bookmarks here and there.

Turns out putting up this wall of post cards led to an extremely satisfying result. It is amazing to be reminded of beautiful, interesting things I saw in the before times. As I put them up I began to think about how they represented the best humanity can put forward. The antidote to the dark days we are living through. I am also delighted on a daily basis looking over at the wall and getting lost in one of them images.

Someday we’ll be back out there again. Someday.

I thought maybe I would arrange them on the floor first.
I had to start somewhere. One of my favorite sculptures here in DC in front of the Hirshhorn is “Last Conversation Piece” by Juan Muñoz. When we were in Nîmes at the Maison Carree about 10 years ago I came across this postcard by him with similar figures.  I used a level to set the first one, but then it seemed maybe the room wasn’t level or my eyes were funky. I stopped using the level after about three postcards.
I kind of liked how the drawing worked nicely with the sepia tone of the Muñoz piece. But then I thought some color was needed so I added the Arthur Dove. And then the pipe organ started to make take things in other directions.


I thought I might try and do a random approach so I sorted postcards by landscape and portrait orientation. I was going to blindly grab one from one of the piles based on what orientation I needed. I did it once. And true to form, I didn’t agree what the universe chose for me. So that process ended right there.
So many beautiful things. (I find this floral still life and Ash Can School scene of equal beauty.)
It grows.
And grows.

26 thoughts on “My Wall of Humanity

  1. Desperate Reader August 29, 2020 / 11:08 am

    For a moment I could have been looking at the walls of my student bedroom. I studied History of Art, and ended up with every part of my walls covered in postcards. It was useful, soothing, and I miss it. So many got lost or damaged along the way that when I found a box of them a few years ago I decided to bin them. Love your wall.


    • Thomas August 31, 2020 / 2:09 pm

      I miss seeing real paintings. This helps. Also, recently I re-read Falling Slowly by Brookner and the main character spends a fair amount of time standing in front of paintings.


  2. Karen K. August 29, 2020 / 11:43 am

    That’s beautiful — I would stare at all day! What did you use to affix them to the wall?


    • Thomas August 31, 2020 / 2:10 pm

      Simple loops of tape. I figured my mental health was worth the price of any slight damage it might do to the wall.


  3. Jeane August 29, 2020 / 12:29 pm

    It’s beautiful. Reminds me of my college days- I covered nearly an entire wall of my side of a dorm room in photographs and artwork on postcards and cut out of discarded magazines.


  4. Annabel (AnnaBookBel) August 29, 2020 / 12:46 pm

    Wonderful. I love it. I have enough postcards to do that too, but not the right wall at the moment.


  5. Liz Dexter August 29, 2020 / 1:52 pm

    This is amazing! Also pleased to see the Rupert Brooke and Iris Murdoch postcards that I have!


    • Thomas August 31, 2020 / 2:12 pm

      I am a big fan of the National Portrait Gallery. I also have a lovely painting of Beatrix Potter a couple columns to the left of Iris, but I’m not sure it shows up in any of the photos.


  6. kaggsysbookishramblings August 29, 2020 / 2:06 pm

    Well, that’s amazing! If I had the wall space I would emulate you with my postcard collection – impressive!!


  7. quinn August 29, 2020 / 7:44 pm

    Wonderfully Perfect! Thank you for sharing this beauty. Love postcards,esp those strong graphic ones of ships, planes, trains from posters. Whenever you get a thought, ‘should I post on blog or not’, just do it. Always a perfect fit


  8. TravellinPenguin August 29, 2020 / 8:36 pm

    I just love this. Great idea. I’d like to know how you affixed them to the wall too. 🐧🌷🤠

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Jenny Colvin August 29, 2020 / 9:37 pm

    Lovely. My bulletin board at work has a similar concept but postcards I’ve picked up as souvenirs are mixed with bumper stickers I’ll never put on my card and some beautiful cards from friends.


  10. Amanda Roper August 29, 2020 / 10:20 pm

    This is beautiful!


  11. Susan scanlon August 29, 2020 / 11:03 pm

    I love it


  12. Claire (The Captive Reader) August 30, 2020 / 10:52 pm

    Glorious! And, especially right now, what a wonderful way to remind yourself of all the places you’ve been and all the amazing things you’ve seen.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Nadia August 31, 2020 / 10:54 am

    I love this idea! They look great! I have loads of postcards, too, and I like the idea of putting them up in my office :) Thank you!!


  14. Ti August 31, 2020 / 2:15 pm

    I was going to ask how you attached them to the wall but I see your tape comment. It looks really good for looped tape. Here, it’s too hot so taping those would result in a floor full of fallen cards eventually. I’d use some putty or something but that would be a lot of putty. I love the finished product though. And a good use for the Persephone bookmarks.


  15. Chris Wolak September 1, 2020 / 10:33 am

    Love this, Thomas! Thanks for sharing it with us.


  16. Joan Kyler September 1, 2020 / 1:41 pm

    Only one word: brilliant!


  17. Pamela Balabuszko-Reay September 2, 2020 / 11:13 pm

    This made me so happy. I actually remember my dad teaching me how to make tape loops as a kid. It was a revelation.


  18. Sarah Faragher September 4, 2020 / 1:28 pm

    Wonderful. Yes, to the beauty of the world. Oh Siegfried Sassoon. I have a different picture of him (but same era) in the book room here.


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