Long before post offices became political flash points, this artist was photographing them

Over the past decade, the artist Mary Welcome has zealously photographed about 1,170 U.S. post offices. Most of her subjects are unassuming, one-story structures in rural towns. At these post offices, the number of customers per day is often dwarfed by the number of stripes on the American flag waving outside. (Thirteen, if you’ve forgotten.)

Welcome started her project, God Bless the USPS, long before the U.S. Postal Service became the politicized headline-maker it is today, swept up in the maelstrom of President Trump’s unfounded claims that mail-in ballots will ensure a fraudulent election. Her endeavor began as a love letter, so to speak. Her images, which she posts on Instagram with the handle @godblesstheUSPS, document the interplay between bureaucracy and community, formality and whimsy. “It’s structured and systematized, but it’s also people-powered,” she says of the Postal Service. “The interactions are so deeply human in such a mechanized space.”

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