Arts & Culture / Mosaic / September 23, 2015

PostSecret comes to Galesburg

According to creator Frank Warren, this community art project lets people reveal their deepest secrets in a “safe, non-judgmental space with total anonymity.” People across the world create postcards on which they write their secrets. Then, they send these postcards in the mail to Warren, who, every Sunday, uploads ten of the many he’s received that week onto the PostSecret website. They remain on the website for anyone to see until the following Sunday. Warren explains that for many, catharsis comes from “physically letting go of the postcard. That ritual has offered a sense of relief.”

Founder of PostSecret, Frank Warren, leafs through postcards sent to him for PostSecret. PostSecret is a community mail art project in which Frank receives secret created on postcards and publishes them anonymously on the PostSecret Website.

Founder of PostSecret, Frank Warren, leafs through postcards sent to him for PostSecret. PostSecret is a community mail art project in which Frank receives secret created on postcards and publishes them anonymously on the PostSecret Website. (Photo courtesy of Frank Warren)

In regard to truly accepting their secrets, he says that for many contributors, mailing a postcard is “the beginning of a longer journey in reconciling that secret in the healthiest way for them.”

To date, Warren has received enough secrets to fill six books, each of which have made it onto the New York Times Bestseller list, one of which, “PostSecret Confessions on Life, Death, and God,” reached number one. The secrets that have not been published are featured on the website’s online archive. 

The live events, like the one coming to Galesburg, are another beast entirely. The anonymity of the postal service is lost in a crowd of people, where everyone is seen and heard, and faces are paired with secrets that otherwise could very well belong to strangers. Warren acknowledges the challenge of this setting, saying that it is, “pretty damn courageous when an audience member stands up in front of a thousand other people.”

In spite of the resulting vulnerability, PostSecret events have proven to be popular, and have been featured across the country in all manner of venues. PostSecret has been particularly popular among college students. As Warren explains, “It resonates strongly with that age; young people are trying to understand what’s true and what’s bullshit.”

The second PostSecret book, “My Secret: A PostSecret Book,” was compiled with this age group, and their drive toward discovery, in mind. Warren says he wishes he could have had access to the book when he was of college age.

“I think that secrets are the currency of intimacy,” Warren says. “It’s crazy how we’re linked to strangers through our secrets.” He notes that the secrets of others, “reflect the secrets that we keep in our own hearts.” 

Live events, for Warren, are about how, “secrets have transformed lives and brought people together.” Warren recounted the story of an audience member who told a secret at a PostSecret event. This audience member described how he had feigned a stomach ache to stay home from school, and had been so believable in his portrayal of the lie that his mother had rushed him to the hospital to get his appendix removed.

According to Warren, at every show — and many of these shows have been in stadiums that seat thousands — at least one audience member has either had a similar experience or remembers someone else who had.

Warren says that being a part of this communion has had a profound effect on him personally. “It gives me a sense of solidarity and connection,” he says. “It makes me realize that we’re all in this together.” He continues, “I think I’m more accepting … and more tolerant of who I am. I’ve been inspired by the courage of strangers sharing their secrets with me.”

This event will be available to Knox students on Saturday, Sept. 26, at 7:30 p.m. at the Orpheum Theater, located at 57 S Kellogg St. Tickets, which cost $15 with a student ID and $20 without, can be purchased from the Orpheum box office or via the Box Office phone number, 309-342-2299.

Djaq Morris

Tags:  frank warren Galesburg orpheum postcards postsecret

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