"In my dreams, God exists and is not a total bastard, and s/he makes my son well and gives him back to me."
"I found God and I am happy. But I am scared to let others know that."
"Even though I'm a scientist ... I still believe in miracles."
"I hate my parents for raising me in a religion that taught me to hate myself."
"Post Secret: Confessions on Life, Death, and God" -- which opened at UAlbany on Wednesday -- does what good art exhibits should do: give you something to think about.
The exhibit features postcards from Frank Warren's collective art project. "Post Secret" started in 2004 when Warren invited strangers to create a 4x6 postcard and use it to anonymously mail him a secret. Hundreds of thousands of secrets later, Warren has several books, an award-winning website and numerous touring exhibits.
(Warren will speak February 8 at the UAlbany Performing Arts Center's Main Theatre.)
The cards in this exhibit, all touching on religion and faith, were featured in Warren's 2009 book of the same name.
You'll find "Post Secret" in the University at Albany's Performing Arts Center, and that's fitting, in a way -- these cards are performance. They are constructed moments of confession, each person choosing what secret to divulge, how to divulge it, what art to include with it.
But that doesn't mean the messages aren't moving, or that they come across as artificial.
Individually, the cards are simple statements of faith, doubt, anger, fear of rejection. Together they create something more complex. The cumulative effect of the several hundred cards is an intensity of human longing, a sense of a culture struggling to find meaning in the world.
"Sometimes I want to be Buddhist because they are friendlier than Christians. And they live for peace not domination."
"I prayed in church for my husband to die. It would be easier for me to tell people that I'm a widow than to tell them that he left me for another woman."
The effect is that of human voices crying out -- but not in chorus. Each voice is alone. Any connections we make are ours to make, privately.
Above the exhibit hangs a huge video screen showing slides of postcards with loud music (Green Day, All-American Rejects) interspersed with snippets of interviews with Warren. I found it distracting. The draw here is the cards and their messages.
Near the entrance is a "post your own secret here" board. Bring along a card if you feel like sharing. Or just go visit to find meaning in the secrets of others.
Admission: Free, but donations accepted. The exhibit is open from 12-6 pm. It runs through February 11. Directions.
Parking: $5. But beware! The (unstaffed) pay box at the visitor lot accepted our money and opened the gate even though there were no available parking spaces. We ended up having to exit and look elsewhere.
Post Secret at UAlbany Performing Arts Center
1400 Washington Ave
Albany, NY 12222
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