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City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
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‘PostSecret’ exhibit at Kennesaw State University’s Art Gallery at Sturgis Library

Ben Poplin reads anonymous post cards and notes at the "PostSecret" exhibit at Kennesaw State University.

Ben Poplin reads anonymous post cards and notes at the "PostSecret" exhibit at Kennesaw State University.

Visual arts exhibit
PostSecret
Through March 27. Free. Art Gallery at Sturgis Library, Kennesaw State University, 1000 Chastain Road, Kennesaw. 770-499-3223. www.kennesaw.edu/arts/galleries.

By Wendell Brock

Everybody has a secret lurking somewhere in the closet of their soul. Frank Warren harbors a half-million of them.

Since 2004, total strangers have scribbled their most intimate thoughts on postcards and dispatched them to his home in Germantown, Md., courtesy of his ongoing community art project, PostSecret, which asks participants to share their thoughts anonymously.

A cultural phenomenon that transcends the avalanche of mail piled up in his home, PostSecret has become a high-traffic Internet destination for the hip and heartbroken (postsecretcommunity.com) and seems to have special resonance with young people. Warren’s collection of postcards from the edge has made him a hot ticket on the college-lecture circuit, spawned five books (including the recent No. 1 New York Times best-seller “PostSecret: Confessions on Life, Death and God”) and provided the material for a number of gallery exhibitions (including one at Kennesaw State University through March 27).

“I always knew it would be special and precious for me, if I could create a safe nonjudgmental place where people could share their deepest hopes and fears and private jokes [or] sexual peccadilloes,” said Warren, who posts 10 new secrets to his blog each Sunday and contributes proceeds to the National Suicide Prevention hotline. “But the way it’s really exploded, not just across the country but around the world, was something I could have never expected.”

At Kennesaw State’s Sturgis Library, loneliness lingers in the margins of many of the 400 mysterious and artfully decorated cards, the quest for love as plain and indelible as the postmarks.

“I still drink out of my dead son’s sippy cup,” says one poignant missive, pinned on a wall at the university library. “It doesn’t make it any easier.”

“I made a student repeat a grade so I could flirt with his father one more year,” says another, shocking in its perversity.

“Secrets are typically of a darker or negative nature, because I think when we have good news about ourselves, we look to tell people,” said Warren, who lives at the PostSecret mailing address — 13345 Cooper Ridge Road, Germantown, MD 20874 — with his wife and 15-year-old daughter. “Each of us has a secret that could break your hearts, if you just knew what it was.”

Warren, 45, calls himself an “accidental artist” because he has no formal training. His fascination with postcards began in elementary school, when his mother gave him some self-addressed cards to send from summer camp. Shortly after returning home, he opened the mailbox to find one of his own notes. It felt like magic.

In 2004, his “reluctant oracle” project made newspaper headlines, after mysterious hand-shaped messages began turning up in bottles he released at Maryland’s Clopper Lake, in the state park where part of “The Blair Witch Project” was filmed. Warren refused to reveal himself as the source of the cryptic messages, speaking to The Washington Post under the pseudonym “Hobby Horse.”

Later that year, he started PostSecret, printing 3,000 self-addressed postcards asking people to jot down a secret and mail it to him. He gave the cards to strangers and left them in public places. The response was meager — until he created his blog. Now he gets about 1,000 PostSecrets a week. The pop band All American Rejects used PostSecret images in its “Dirty Little Secret” music video.

“The most common kind of secret I get comes from a person somewhere on that journey of trying to find that one person they can tell all their secrets with,” Warren said. “I also get a lot of secrets from people confessing to pee in the shower. You get the full breadth here, from the deeply philosophical and meaningful to the trivial and laugh-out-loud funny.”

11 comments Add your comment

PLane

March 9th, 2010
3:14 pm

I Love Post Secret!!

Phoma

March 9th, 2010
3:34 pm

Pretty neat idea, and I’m not even into art..

Shannon

March 9th, 2010
3:36 pm

This is like the video by All American Rejects, “Dirty Little Secrets”

Robert

March 9th, 2010
3:42 pm

The PostSecret website is updated weekly at midnight Saturdays – it’s really fun to wake up Sunday mornings and read the week’s new postcards. Glad to see that some of them are on exhibit nearby!

malika

March 9th, 2010
4:05 pm

i checked it out and the event was really cool. i hate that kennesaw is so far outside of atlanta,(KSU ROCKA!!!) but i took a girl that i mentor to see this and she and i both really enjoyed it.

My Secret

March 9th, 2010
4:23 pm

I don’t have a postcard, but I’ve committed several crimes and haven’t gotten caught.

David in Snellville

March 9th, 2010
5:12 pm

My wife and I traveled from Snellville to Kennesaw to see Post Secret only to find the library closed this last Saturday (3-6-10) because they furloughed their employees to save money. Unfortunately, the art gallery where the show is is “inside” the library. And finding the library was a trip because KSU has very poor if any signage on that campus telling visitors where anything is. It took us quite a while. And having limited mobility (walk with a cane) it was a long walk from the parking lot to the library and then we found it closed. A very disappointing experience for me and the wife.

I Have a Secret, Too

March 9th, 2010
5:21 pm

1. I know where Elvis is.
2. If I drop something on the floor, I’ll pick it up and eat it if nobody saw it fall.
3. I once left my neighbor an ugly “anonymous” note about their animals being unrestrained.

[...] Art: ‘PostSecret’ exhibition continues, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and 7-9 p.m., Kennesaw State’s Sturgis Library art gallery, Kennesaw. FREE. Read more. [...]

secrets » Blog Archive

March 24th, 2010
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