Female artists featured in “Street Art Graphics” digital archive

In 2017, after receiving a faculty research grant from the German Academic Exchange Service to continue cataloguing stickers for the Street Art Graphics digital archive, I spent four weeks in Berlin collecting political stickers and learning about the issues they communicated. My collaborator, Oliver Baudach, founder and director of the Hatch Kingdom Sticker Museum, also identified 954 original, unused stickers from his collection of street art stickers for me to scan while I was there, of which 322 were done by female artists.

Scanning at Hatch Kingdom, 2017
Scanning at Hatch Kingdom, 2017

In 2019, with a second grant from the U.S. Council of Independent Colleges’ Consortium on Digital Resources for Teaching and Research, Oli and I organized a traveling exhibition called SHE SLAPS: Street Art Stickers by Women Artists from Around the World, which premiered at the Richard F. Brush Art Gallery at St. Lawrence University (Canton, NY) in the fall of 2019. (See my previous post about the project here.) In preparation for the show, Oli put out a call for new donations and came to campus with an additional 446 stickers by female artists.

Arline Wolfe and Oli Baudach at SLU, 2019
Organizing sticker boards for “SHE SLAPS” exhibition, 2019

Now, three years later from when this all began, I am delighted to announce that we’ve added 762 stickers by female artists to the Street Art Graphics digital archive. That’s 23.1% of stickers in the collection that currently numbers 3,296. There are undoubtedly more stickers by women than that percentage, but those are the ones that have been identified by Oli. Special thanks to SLU’s Arline Wolfe who oversaw the cataloguing of these stickers with help in 2017 from Tyler Senecharles, Class of 2020 (pictured below) and in 2019-20 from Kayla Edmunds, Class of 2021, and Anica Koontz-Miller, Class of 2022.

Tyler Senecharles, SLU ’20, cataloguing stickers, 2019

Oli is undoubtedly one of the world’s leading expert on street art stickers. He keeps meticulous records on artists’ names, geographic locations, and dates, which are so important in cataloguing these items. “Very German,” he’d say. (Note: there are another 632 scans of stickers from 2017 to put in the cataloguing hopper when the time comes.)

Office at Hatch Kingdom, 2017
Oli is part of the SLU family, ca. 2015

Here is how to get to the female artists in the Street Art Graphics digital archive: Click on https://library.artstor.org/#/collection/87730635. Type in “female artists” in the search bar (without quotes). You’ll see 1,027 results. Scroll down on the left to Contributor and click on St. Lawrence University for 762 stickers by female artists.

Working from home during the COVID-19 crisis: Post #3

Working from home during the COVID-19 crisis: Post #3

Lophophora williamsii

I continue to work from home on digital image collection projects that I outlined in my first post from this COVID-19 series, focusing now on a series of confocal miscroscopy images generated by two faculty at St. Lawrence University: Jill Pflugheber, Microscopy Specialist, and Dr. Steven F. White, Lewis Professor of Modern Languages and Literatures. This digital project grew out of an exhibition this past spring at the Richard F. Brush Art Gallery at SLU called Microcosms: A Homage to the Sacred Plants of the Americas. Here is the exhibition text panel that the two faculty wrote to accompany the printed images:

“Confocal microscopy, also known as confocal laser scanning microscopy, is a specialized optical imaging technique that provides contact-free, non-destructive measurements of three-dimensional shapes. In this case, plants considered sacred by indigenous groups of the Americas were scanned at St. Lawrence University’s microscopy and imaging center. The procedure gathers information from a narrow depth of field, while simultaneously eliminating out-of-focus glare, as well as permitting the creation of optical sections through biological samples. Images are built over time by gathering photons emitted from fluorescent chemical compounds naturally contained within the plants themselves, creating a vivid and precise colorimetric display.

Psychotria viridis

To pay homage to sacred plants revered by indigenous groups throughout the Americas is a way of honoring the entire world in a time of environmental emergency. The exhibition—at the juncture of art, technology, and science—magnifies life in ways that may alter how humans perceive other living entities from our shared and threatened biosphere in more egalitarian terms. The plants reveal themselves as 21st-century extensions of biomorphic forms that were the genesis of abstract works by artists such as Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee one hundred years previous. Some of the plants contain the most potent psychoactive agents on the planet and serve as intermediaries that have enabled native communities to communicate with their ancestors, wage war on the enemies of their land, conceptualize entire cosmogonies, and maintain a nearly impossible equilibrium. Perhaps each stoma, trichome, and patterned fragment of xylem and vascular tissue in these vital portraits is not only a way into previously unseen vegetal realms, but also a way out of our collective crisis.”

As a side note, Steven is co-editor of Ayahuasca Reader: Encounters with the Amazon’s Sacred Vine (Synergetic Press, 2018). The gallery has presented two other exhibitions based on Steven’s research in this area with world-renowned ethnobotanist Luis Eduardo Luna: Inner Visions: Sacred Plants, Art, and Spirituality in 2016 (+ press release), and Visions that the Plants Gave Us in 1999 (+ more info here).

Diplopterys cabrerana

Creating metadata fields for this collection was also time-consuming for different reasons, but fun overall. The “data dictionary and cataloguing guide” that I created is listed at the end of this post, but here are some general points to make with regard to the work I’ve been doing:

  • I finally figured out how to use RightsStatements.org most effectively for this and other digital image collections at SLU. From the website: “RightsStatements.org provides a set of standardized rights statements that can be used to communicate the copyright and re-use status of digital objects to the public. Our rights statements are supported by major aggregation platforms such as the Digital Public Library of America and Europeana. The rights statements have been designed with both human users and machine users (such as search engines) in mind and make use of semantic web technology.”
  • I also figured out how to use the Creative Commons licenses most effectively for SLU digital image collections. This one was easy because the Microcosms images are copyright-protected by the two faculty.
  • Our cataloguing platform, Jstor Forum, is more nimble now than when I created the Street Art Graphics digital archive in the platform’s predecessor, Shared Shelf, in 2015. (Sorry, but who comes up with these ridiculous platform names, lol?) There are many more “Linked Authority Fields” embedded within most metadata fields that link to several lists of terms, such as the Art & Architecture Thesaurus (AAT), the Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH), and the Thesaurus of Geographic Names (TGN)—some of which are listed on the Library of Congress’s full Linked Data Service website.
  • Despite the funny name, I really like the Jstor Forum admin and cataloguing environments. Both are extremely user-friendly and intuitive, and the published collections emphasize the images in ways other platforms don’t. (I’m talking to you, ContentDM.)

Microcosms: Sacred Plants of the Americas

Data Dictionary and Cataloguing Guidelines

(with examples for peyote in this document)

Temporary album in Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/slu-art-gallery/albums/72157713729253121

AAT = Art & Architecture Thesaurus

LCSH = Library of Congress Subject Headings

TGN = Thesaurus of Geographic Names

PLANT DETAILS (i.e., “work”)

1. Common Name: Linked Authority Field (AAT)

Common name of plant. Use Linked Authority Lists based on AAT and LCSH. [Accept multiple values.] Ex: Peyote

2. Genus: Linked Authority Field

Genus of plant. Use Linked Authority Lists based on AAT and LCSH. Ex: Lophophora

3. Species: Linked Authority Field

Species of plant. Use Linked Authority Lists based on AAT, LCSH, and “Microcosms: Species.” Ex: Lophophora williamsii

4. Indigenous Name: Linked Authority Field

Cultural names of the plant. Use Linked Authority Lists based on AAT, LCSH, and “Microcosms: Indigenous Names” (list based on Steven White’s exhibition labels). [Accept multiple values.]

5. Specimen Source: List Field

Person or institution that provided the plant or seed. List provided by Steven White. [Accept multiple values.] Possibly change this to Linked Authority Field?

6. Image View Description: Text Area

Text that describes the content and context of the work, including comments and an interpretation that may supplement, qualify, or explain the physical characteristics, subject, circumstances of creation or discovery, or other information about the work. (Jill Pflugheber to describe plant section.)

7. Subject: Linked Authority Field

Terms that identify, describe, and/or interpret what is depicted in and by a work. Use Linked Authority Fields based on AAT, LCSH, and TGN.

8. Culture (Linked Authority Field)

Name of the culture, people, or nationality from which the plant is used. Use Linked Authority Fields based on AAT and LCSH. [Accept multiple values.] Refer to exhibition labels that Steve supplied.

9. Ethnobotanical Use/Cultural Significance: Text Area

Dr. Steven White to write ~100 words. (Map to Description in Dublin Core.)

LOCATION OF PLANTS

10. Artstor Country: List Field (Required)

A type of “nationality” field, though not in adjectival form; country refers to the modern name of the country from which the artist came. A list of those currently in use by Artstor is provided. [Accept multiple values.]

11. Geographic Location: Linked Authority Field

Geographic location of the plant. Use Linked Authority Field based on TGN. [Accept multiple values.]

DATES OF CONFOCAL IMAGES

12. Image Date: Text Field

Date or range of dates associated with the particular view captured in the image. (Jill Pflugheber will provide acquisition dates.) Ex: 29 Mar 2020

13. Artstor Earliest Date: Number Field (Required)

Year that broadly delimits the beginning of an implied date span. Add five years from date of capture.

14. Artstor Latest Date: Number Field (Required)

Year that broadly delimits the end of an implied date span. Subtract five years from date of capture.

ABOUT THE CONFOCAL IMAGES

15. Artstor Classification: List Field (Required)

Term used to categorize a work by grouping it together with other works on the basis of similar characteristics, including materials, form, shape, function, etc. A list of the 16 terms accepted by Artstor is provided. Use: Science, Technology, and Industry

16. Work Type: Linked Authority Field (AAT)

Term or terms identifying the specific kind of object or work being described. Use Linked Authority Field based on Art and Architecture Thesaurus. Use “confocal microscopy” as default for all records.

17. Laser Excitation Wavelengths: Text Field (Default) (Map to Description)

Jill Pflugheber to provide. Use “488nm=green, 561nm=red, 640nm=blue” as default for all records.

OTHER

18. Repository: Text Field (Default)

The name and geographic location of the repository that is currently responsible for the work. Use “St. Lawrence University, Canton, NY (USA)” as default for all records.

19. SLU Project Coordinators: Text Field (Default)

Names and roles of individuals that played a role in the creation of the image. Use “Jill Pflugheber, Microscopy Specialist, and Dr. Steven White, Lewis Professor of Modern Languages and Literatures” as default for all records.

20. Notes: Text Area

Any additional misc. information to be shared publicly.

21. Local Notes: Text Area (Hidden)

Internal information not to be shared publicly. Field should be hidden but searchable.

22. Rights: Text Field

The copyright status of the digital object. Recommended best practice is to use a controlled statement from RightsStatements.org. Use “Image: Copyright 2020 by Jill Pflugheber and Dr. Steven F. White (Rights Statement – In Copyright http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/InC/1.0/)” as default for all records.

23. License: Text Field

The terms under which the digital object may be used by others. Recommended best practice is to use a controlled statement from CreativeCommons.org. Use “Use of this image is in accordance with Creative Commons by Attribution-NonCommercial-No Derivatives (CC BY-NC-ND)” as default for all records.

24. Original Filename: Text Field (Hidden)

Unique numeric or alpha numeric identification, usually a filename, of the original image from Jill Pflugheber. Field should be hidden but searchable.

25. Revised Filename: Text Field (Hidden)

Unique numeric or alpha numeric identification, usually a filename, of the revised image from Jo Skiff. Field should be hidden but searchable.

**NOTE: After the “Fields” are created, all of the fields and the order of the fields need to be re-created in the “Cataloging Form Fields” tab.

Useful websites

Jstor Global Plants (hoping to submit our collection to Jstor in addition to Artstor and DPLA)

World Flora Online

Possibly NAPRALERT (requires registration approval)

Native American Ethnobotany Database

Entheology: Plants (for indigenous plant names and cultures)

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Culturally Significant Plants

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Classification

Useful Tropical Plants Database

DPLA and Wikimedia Commons

In other news, I took a webinar last week on April 21, 2020, sponsored by the Digital Public Library of America and the Wikimedia Foundation, that focused on increasing the discoverability and use of digital media. A system is being set up to upload images from DPLA into Wikimedia Commons that can then be inserted into Wikipedia pages, funded by a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

I’ve already done a little of this with I.W.W. “stickerettes” or “silent agitators” in the Street Art Graphics digital archive. This past year, for example, I uploaded images for the following Wikipedia pages: Silent agitators, “Black Cat” on Anarchist symbolism, “Scab” on Strikebreaker, and “Foundation of the Industrial Workers of the World” under Bill Haywood.

Anyhoo, I reached out to the webinar organizers and expressed my enthusiasm to participate in this endeavor. Given past support for the Street Art Graphics digital archive from the U.S. Council of Independent Colleges, I’m hoping they will contact me. Stay tuned!

Working from home during the COVID-19 crisis: Post #2

Today’s online text chat with Jstor Support:

Catherine Tedford

Apr 6, 15:45 EDT 

Chat started: 2020-04-06 07:32 PM UTC

(07:32:23 PM) Catherine Tedford: Hello! I am cleaning up some metadata fields in St. Lawrence University’s Street Art Graphics collection and trying to revise some text in the Rights field. I don’t seem to have a way to do that myself. Is that something you do on your end?

The sentence currently reads like this:
For information about the St. Lawrence University Street Art Graphics Digital Archive, see http://www.stlawu.edu/gallery/copyright/.

And I’d like it to read like this:
See http://www.stlawu.edu/gallery/copyright/.

I’m also not seeing default text in my Usage field show up in ADL. It hadn’t been mapped correctly, but I fixed that today and still don’t see it.

Thanks in advance for your help!
(07:32:27 PM) *** EJ joined the chat ***
(07:32:37 PM) EJ: Hi Catherine. Thanks for contacting JSTOR Forum Support!
(07:32:52 PM) EJ: Let me open up your project so I can take a look
(07:33:07 PM) Catherine Tedford: Great, thanks!
(07:35:18 PM) EJ: Are you working with the JSTOR Publishing target or the Artstor publishing target
(07:35:19 PM) EJ: ?
(07:35:29 PM) Catherine Tedford: Both, I think.
(07:35:38 PM) Catherine Tedford: But ADL, for sure.
(07:36:10 PM) EJ: OK, the JSTOR one will probably have to be done on our end. That functionality is brand new as you know, so it requires some intervention from our developers.
(07:36:16 PM) EJ: For the ADL one, I’ll do some testing now
(07:36:42 PM) Catherine Tedford: Perfect.
(07:36:46 PM) EJ: For the rights statement, if you open the ADL publishing target for the project in Admin, you’ll see the option to edit.
(07:37:01 PM) Catherine Tedford: okay, one sec…
(07:37:20 PM) EJ: Thanks for checking!
(07:37:43 PM) Catherine Tedford: There it is. Thank you! Can you help with my other question, too?
(07:38:29 PM) EJ: Sure! Did you update and map that field for records that had already been published? If so, you’ll need to republish them to make the change go through. If it’s a big collection, I can also do the reindexing for you from my end.
(07:38:59 PM) Catherine Tedford: Oh, I see. If you could do it on your end, that would be great.
(07:39:08 PM) Catherine Tedford: It’s a pretty big collection.
(07:39:38 PM) EJ: OK. I’ll start running that now and it should be complete by tomorrow, so I will check back in with you then!
(07:39:43 PM) EJ: Thanks for taking a look at this!
(07:40:22 PM) Catherine Tedford: Very good. Thanks again, I appreciate it. I love how fluid this system is, but I get a hiccup every now and then. 🙂
(07:41:23 PM) EJ: I have the exact same problem sometimes because there’s just so much to keep track of! Let us know if we can help with anything else, and if you have questions about the JSTOR target I can pass those along to the development team as well.
(07:41:46 PM) Catherine Tedford: Sounds good. Take care!
(07:41:56 PM) EJ: You too! Stay well!

Working from home during the COVID-19 crisis: Post #1

Amidst the COVID-19 crisis, I’ve decided to write about some of the work I’m doing for St. Lawrence University, where I serve as gallery director. I’m hoping I’ll still write about street art stickers here on Stickerkitty, but I’ve been too distracted lately to put my energies there. I’ve also decided to post some materials I’ve compiled over the past few years on family history, especially regarding my father, Rev. Dr. Duane W. Smith, who was active in the U.S. civil rights, women’s rights, and prison reform movements throughout his life. I’ve debated on posting about my dad for several months, and not sure if this was the right forum for it, but now seems like a good time to do so. More on that to follow later.

Non-essential SLU employees were directed to work from home as of Monday, March 23, though the University was on spring break the week before, so things were already pretty quiet on campus. Given that the gallery will now be physically closed until at least June, I’ve decided that the gallery staff (me and Carole Mathey, the assistant director) will focus on three things: digital collection projects (with help from Arline Wolfe, the library’s arts metadata technician), helping the art & art history department’s senior “exhibition,” and student and faculty engagement through social media. This is a version of an email I sent to my supervisor, the dean of academic affairs, last week:

  1. Earlier this year, Jstor contacted me and Eric Williams-Bergen about publishing the Street Art Graphics (SAG) digital archive directly to Jstor (in addition to it currently being published in Artstor and the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA). SLU would be one of the early image contributors to Jstor. They have now set everything up for me to do this, which I’ll be working on this week.
  2. I’m adding French language stickers to the SAG archive for an upcoming assignment in Eloise Brezault’s FR102 class. This follows assignments that Marina Llorente and Brook Henkel have done previously in other Modern Languages courses (specifically Spanish and German).
  3. The gallery will also publish the ~70 confocal images from Steven White’s and Jill Pflugheber’s Microcosms exhibition in Jstor, Artstor, and the DPLA. This is an important collection in terms of content that is unparalleled internationally. I anticipate a high degree of interest from the science/art community over this collection. Since it’s an entirely new collection, it’s going to take a little time to figure out metadata fields, etc., but totally do-able. [Steve teaches in Modern Languages and Jill teaches in the Biology department.]
  4. As mentioned in a previous email, we’re also creating a new Japanese Ukiyo-e and Mokuhanga Prints image collection for Melissa Schulenberg’s printmaking and First-Year Seminar students. The collection will be based on prints in SLU’s permanent collection.
  5. We’re also helping Sarah Knobel with her SYE “exhibition,” though we’re not sure yet what platform will be used.

Focusing first on the Japanese print collection, I spent a few days last week compiling a “data dictionary and cataloguing guide,” based on templates created by the Visual Resources Association and Artstor. We can also add customized metadata fields as needed. The dictionary and guide is included at the end of this post.

Ralph Kiggell, Yotsuya Schoolgirls,
water-based woodcut print on tosa kozo; mokuhanga, SLU 2013.19

Yesterday, I configured the metadata fields in Jstor Forum, the cataloguing environment that then publishes content to “targets” (Artstor, Jstor, DPLA).


The next step was to create the cataloguing form in which we will enter metadata (in this case, textual data about visual images).

Later today, I will do the last step, which is to make sure our metadata fields are mapped to the right targets. I need to do some research to remember how to do this, but luckily Jstor Forum has a robust online support system, and I was able to chat with someone yesterday via text when I ran into a few snags.

The last time I did all of this was in 2015 for the Street Art Graphics digital archive, when I had someone from Artstor guide me through all of the steps. This time, I’m on my own and needless to say, it’s slow going, but fun. One has to determine what sort of data about an image would be useful for teaching and research and then work backwards to figure out the cataloguing.

Here below is what I’ve come up with so far. I grouped most of the fields together based on how we do 3×5-inch labels for artworks in an exhibition (artist, title, date, medium, dimensions, credit line) and left the others at the end.

Japanese Ukiyo-e and Mokuhanga Prints from St. Lawrence University’s Permanent Collection: Data Dictionary and Cataloguing Guidelines

(All fields are public unless otherwise noted.)

ARTIST

1. Creator: Linked Authority Field

Name, brief biographical information, and roles (if necessary) of the named creator or creators in the design and production of the work, presented in a syntax suitable for display to the end-user and including any necessary indications of uncertainty, ambiguity, and nuance. Controlled list is based on Shared Shelf Names, ULAN and Library of Congress Name Authority File (NAF).

TITLE

2. Title: Text Field

Titles, identifying phrases, or names given to a work of art, architecture, or material culture.

3. Title – Alternative: Text Field

Additional or variant text. 

4. Title – Translation: Text Field

Translation of title into English.

MEDIUM

5. Artstor Classification: List Field

Term used to categorize a work by grouping it together with other works on the basis of similar characteristics, including materials, form, shape, function, etc. A list of the 16 terms accepted by Artstor may be provided.

6. Work Type: Linked Authority Field

Term or terms identifying the specific kind of object or work being described. Controlled List is based on AAT.

7. Materials/Techniques: Linked Authority Field

Indication of the substances or materials used in the creation of a work, as well as any implements, production or manufacturing techniques, processes, or methods incorporated in its fabrication, presented in a syntax suitable for display to the end-user and including any necessary indications of uncertainty, ambiguity, and nuance. Controlled List is based on AAT.

8. Style – Period: Linked Authority Field

Term that identifies the named, defined style, historical or artistic period, movement, group, or school whose characteristics are represented in the work being catalogued. Controlled List is based on AAT.

9. State/Edition: Text Field

Description of the state of the work and/or the edition of the work; used primarily for prints and other multiples.

10. Inscriptions: Text Field

Description or transcription of any distinguishing or identifying physical lettering, annotations, texts, markings, or labels that are affixed, applied, stamped, written, inscribed, or attached to the work, excluding any mark or text inherent in the materials of which the work was made.

DATE

11. Date: Text Field

Concise description of the date or range of dates associated with the creation, design, production, presentation, performance, construction, or alteration of the work or its components, presented in a syntax suitable for display to the end-user and including any necessary indications of uncertainty, ambiguity, and nuance.

12. Artstor Earliest Date: Number Field

Year that broadly delimits the beginning of an implied date span.

13. Latest Date: Number Field

Year that broadly delimits the end of an implied date span.

OTHER

14. Measurements: Text Field

Information about the dimensions, size, or scale of the work, presented in a syntax suitable for display to the end-user and including any necessary indications of uncertainty, ambiguity, and nuance. Ex: 8 x 10 inches (plate); 12 x 14 inches (sheet)

15. Artstor Country: List Field

A type of “nationality” field, though not in adjectival form; country refers to the modern name of the country from which the artist came. A list of those currently in use by Artstor may be provided. [Accept multiple values.]

16. Location: Linked Authority Field

Geographic location of the item/creator (City or City, State). Controlled List is based on Thesaurus of Geographic Names (TGN).

17. Language: Linked Authority Field

Language or languages in which the item is written.  Controlled List is based on Library of Congress ISO 639-1 Languages and AAT.

18. Description: Text Area

Text that describes the content and context of the work, including comments and an interpretation that may supplement, qualify, or explain the physical characteristics, subject, circumstances of creation or discovery, or other information about the work.

19. Subject: Linked Authority Field

Terms that identify, describe, and/or interpret what is depicted in and by a work. Controlled List is based on Thesaurus f Geographic Names, AAT, and Library of Congress Subject Headings.

20. Repository: Text Field

The name and geographic location of the repository that is currently responsible for the work.

Use: Richard F. Brush Art Gallery at St. Lawrence University (Canton, NY)

21. SLU ID Number: Text Field

The gallery-assigned unique numeric or alphanumeric identification of the image.

22. Rights: List Field

The copyright status of the digital object. Recommended best practice is to use a controlled statement from RightsStatements.org. Ex: Depending on date, choose either:

23. License: List Field (DO NOT USE)

The terms under which the digital object may be used by others. License text “Use of this image is in accordance with Artstor’s Terms and Conditions of Use” will appear automatically.

24. Exhibition History: List Field

Exhibition history. Use Controlled List. [Accept multiple values.]

25. Notes: Text Area

Any additional misc. information to be shared publicly.

26. Local Notes: Text Area (Hidden)

Internal information not to be shared publicly. Field should be hidden but searchable.

27. Original Filename: Text Field (Hidden)

Original image filename. Field should be hidden but searchable.

28. Student Cataloguer: List Field

Select name from Controlled List.

Appendix: Reference Words (authorities, schemata, thesauri)

Art and Architecture Thesaurus (AAT)

Cataloging Cultural Objects (CCO)

Categories for the Description of Works of Art (CDWA)

CDWA-lite

Iconclass

Library of Congress Name Authority File (LCNAF)

Library of Congress Subject Authority File (LCSAF)

Thesaurus of Geographic Names (TGN)

Union List of Artist Names (ULAN)

VRA Core 4.0

German 103 Writing Assignment – SLU Fall 2019

In the fall of 2019, St. Lawrence University students in Dr. Brook Henkel’s German 103 class incorporated contemporary political stickers from Germany for a writing assignment, similar to what his students did in 2017 and in 2018. (Click on those two links for the actual writing assignment, preparatory readings, etc.). The work of two students, Stefan Dragićević ’22 and Sophie Lehmann ’20, is featured below. Thanks also to Brendan Reilly ’20 for the German-to-English translations.

Note: the right-wing NPD and Freiheit/Islamismus stickers pictured below were donated to me in 2017 by Irmela Mensah-Schramm, a 74-year old Berlin-based woman who has devoted much of her adult life to removing symbols of hate in Germany. NDP stands for Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands or National Democratic Party of Germany.

Stefan Dragićević

Die Geister aus der VergangenheitThe Spirits of the Past

Die größten Rivalitäten in der deutschen Politik sind seit den 1930er Jahren die Nationalisten und diejenigen, die den Nationalismus verurteilen. Nach dem Fall des Dritten Reiches wird der Nachfolger der NSDAP die NPD, die weiterhin Ideen verbreitet, die Nationalismus, Rassismus und Antisemitismus fördern. Aufgrund massiver Zuwanderungen aus dem nahen Osten und Unruhen in Europa haben die Nationalisten von der deutschen Bevölkerung mehr Unterstützung erhalten, da sie der Idee folgen: „Deutschland für Deutsche”. Andererseits galten die linken Parteien als der größte Feind des Nationalsozialismus. Sie fördern die Meinungsfreiheit und wollen Flüchtlingen helfen, sich in die deutsche Gesellschaft zu integrieren. Es gibt viele Grundschulen oder Kindergärten, die sich an Kinder aus dem Nahen Osten richten, in denen sie etwas über die deutsche Kultur und die deutsche Sprache lernen.

Since the 1930s, the grandest rivalries in the German political scene have been those between the nationalists and their opponents. After the fall of the Third Reich, the National Democratic Party became the successor party to the previous Nazi party, and continued to spread nationalist, racist, and anti-Semitic ideologies. Due to mass immigration from the Near East, as well as a general unrest in Europe, the NDP has gained increasing support from the German public, who follow their idea of keeping “Germany for Germans.” On the other side, the German left-wing parties have functioned as the greatest opponents to national socialism. These groups support freedom of opinion and want to assist the integration of incoming refugees into German society. There are many kindergartens and elementary schools that devote special attention to educating students from the Near East on German language and culture.

In der Mitte des Aufklebers, den ich beschrieben habe, befindet sich ein Satz, der in zwei Teile unterteilt ist: Im ersten Teil heißt es: „Geld für die Oma”, während im zweiten Teil heißt es: „Statt für Sinti und Roma“. Die beiden Teile der Sitzung sind in Gelb und Schwarz hervorgehoben. In Verbindung mit der roten, ovalen Form des NPD-Logos werden die Farben der deutschen Flagge dargestellt. Das mag naiv aussehen, aber es ist umstritten, ob es angebracht ist, deutsche Symbole in der Öffentlichkeit zu zeigen, da sie meist mit der Nazizeit in Verbindung gebracht werden. Im Hintergrund des Aufklebers ist eine alte Frau zu sehen, die verängstigt die Worte „Sinti & Roma“ ansieht. Sinti und Roma sind Menschen, die vom indischen Subkontinent abstammen, und sich vor Jahrhunderten in Europa niedergelassen haben. Während der Nazizeit haben sie zusammen mit der jüdischen Bevölkerung große Verluste erlitten. Darüber hinaus kann der Begriff Sinti und Roma als Pejorativ für Flüchtlinge aus Zentralasien und dem Nahen Osten verwendet werden, die ähnliche körperliche Merkmale aufweisen. Der Zweck des Aufklebers besteht darin, die Gefühle der Menschen hervorzurufen und sie auf eine schlechte finanzielle Lage der alten Bevölkerung aufmerksam zu machen, die von den ankommenden Flüchtlingen bermutlich verursacht würde.

In the middle of the first sticker is a sentence that has been divided into two parts: the first portion translates to “money for Grandma,” while the second translates to “instead of for Sinti and Roma.” Both sentences are emboldened with black and yellow highlights. Alongside the red, oval form of the NPD logo, the colors of the German flag are depicted. It remains controversial as to whether it is appropriate to fly the German flag in public, due to the lingering connection of German national symbols to the country’s Nazi past. In the background of the sticker is an old woman, looking worriedly at the words “Sinti and Roma.” Sinti and Roma are groups of people stemming from the Indian subcontinent, having settled in Europe over hundreds of years ago. During Nazi rule, these groups suffered great losses alongside the Jewish population. Since then, the terms Sinti and Roma have been used as pejoratives for refugees from Central Asia and the Near East, who bear similar physical characteristics to those of the Sinti and Roma. The goal of this sticker is to bring attention to the financial woes of Germany’s elder population, and to blame it on the arrival of refugees.

Der zweite Aufkleber steht für ein gelbes Verkehrszeichen, das in zwei gleiche Rechtecke unterteilt ist. Im oberen Rechteck steht „Freiheit“, im zweiten ein gekreuztes Wort „Islamismus“. Auch wenn es kein Party-Logo gibt, kommt dieses von einer rechten Partei, die die genetische und ethnische „Reinheit“ der Nation fördert, die sich erst kürzlich vereinigt hat!

The second sticker represents a yellow traffic sign, divided into two rectangles. In the top rectangle stands the word “freedom,” in the second the crossed-out word “Islam.” Even without a party logo, it is clear that this sticker was produced by a right-wing group that supports the genetic and ethnic “purity” that initially brought the German nation together.

Obwohl die Unterstützung der Rechtsextremisten in der Bevölkerung zugenommen hat, stimmt die Mehrheit der deutschen Bevölkerung nach wie vor zu, dass es, wie auf dem dritten Aufkleber geschrieben, “Kein Kiez für Nazis” geben sollte.

Despite the growth in support for the extremist right-wing parties in the German population, the majority still agrees that there is “no place for Nazis” (the original German phrase makes use of the word “Kiez,” a word for “neighborhood” that is specific to Berlin and other parts of Northern Germany).

Bevor die massiven Migrationswellen aus dem nahen Osten einsetzten, waren die rechten Parteien nicht sehr beliebt. Andererseits, wie auf dem Aufkleber zu sehen ist, nimmt die Popularität jener Parteien, insbesondere der AfD zu, die nur fünf Jahre nach ihrer Gründung massive Unterstützung von Deutschen erhalten haben, die in irgendeiner Weise die Bedeutung der deutschen Sprache unterstützen Reinheit. Es ist wichtig zu erwähnen, dass der Begriff ,,Reinheit“ die Ansicht vertritt, dass nordische und germanische Sprachen und Nationen im Vergleich zu anderen überlegen sind und über andere Nationen herrschen sollten. Obwohl es illegal ist, solche Ideen zu bewerben, wie auf den Aufklebern zu sehen, gibt es immer noch Anhänger der nationalsozialistischen Ideologie, die in den kommenden Jahren noch zunehmen werden.

Before the massive waves of immigration from the Near East, the right-wing parties in Germany had little support. However, as these stickers make clear, the popularity of these parties has grown—particularly for the AfD (Alternative for Germany), who have amassed a grand level of support in only five years after their conception. Like other right-wing parties, the AfD stands for the so-called “purity” in Germany. It is important to mention that the term “purity” is tied to Nordic and German languages and nations, and suggests that they are superior to others. Although it is illegal to advertise such ideas, posters and stickers with nationalistic messages and ideologies are ever present, and their number will only grow in the coming years.

Sophie Lehmann

Antifascist stickers from multiple languages

Die Aufkleber, die ich beschreiben will, befassen sich hauptsachlich mit dem Thema Antifaschismus. Der Antifaschismus hat in Deutschland eine historische und heutige Signifikanz, weil die rechtsextreme Politik in Europa seit dem 19. Jahrhundert ein laufendes Problem ist. Diese Bewegung wird noch wichtiger, weil das Land in der Vergangenheit eine faschistische Regierung erlebt hat. Das war in Deutschland der Fall, also sind die antifaschistischen Botschaften sehr direkt und kraftvoll. Bevor der zweite Weltkrieg begann, hatte es auch Probleme mit Rechtsextremismus gegeben. Rechtsextremismus verschwand nicht, nachdem die Nazis gefallen waren, das heißt, die Probleme sind nie verschwunden. Die Aufkleber, die ich ausgewählt habe, befassen sich mit Antifaschismus und benutzen auch andere Sprachen als Deutsch. Der Antifaschismus unterstützt eine Mischung aus Identitäten. Der Faschismus fördert normalerweise die Idee, dass es nur einen richtigen Weg zu sein gibt (Jackson).

The stickers that I’ll be describing deal mainly with antifascism. This movement has both a historical and a present significance in Germany, because the right-wing extremist politics have been an ongoing problem in Europe since the 19th century. The movement becomes particularly strong when a country that has experienced a fascist government in the past. Such is the case in Germany, and today the antifascist messages are very direct and powerful. Before the Second World War began, there had already been a problem with right-wing extremism. It did not disappear with the fall of the Nazis, either—such problems have never faded. The stickers that I’ve chosen follow a theme of antifascism and use German as well as other languages, as the movement is supported by a variety of identities. Contrarily, fascism tends to support the idea that there is only one true way to be (Jackson).

Ich habe diesen Aufkleber als Hauptaufkleber gewählt, weil ich der Text in italienisch und das Bild der Unruhen sehr relevant für die Diskussion über verschiedene Identitäten und Antifaschismus gefunden hat. Der Aufkleber ist rechteckig mit Rot und Schwarz als Hauptfarben. Das Bild enthält auch die Farben Weiß und Gelb. Im Vordergrund steht ein Text auf Italienisch im Weiß, der, wenn man das übersetzt heißt „Wir sind alle Antifaschisten.“ Im Hintergrund des Bildes ist die Farbpalette warm und dunkel. Die Farben sind von Feuer und Unruhen. Insgesamt erinnert das Bild der Unruhen und der Farbpalette an die neueste antifaschistische Aktion. Der Text in italienisch erinnert an historische antifaschistische Aktionen wie aus dem zweiten Weltkrieg, weil Italien auch in der Vergangenheit eine faschistische Regierung erlebt hat.

I’ve chosen these stickers, because I’ve found that its use of Italian and imagery of unrest are very relevant for the discussion of various identities and antifascism. The sticker is square with red and black and includes also white and yellow. In the foreground stands the Italian text in white, which translates to “we are all antifascists.” In the background is a color palette that is both warm and dark. The colors are those of fire and unrest. The image and its colors call to mind the recent antifascist action. The linguistic context also calls to mind Italy’s historical dealings with a fascist government.

Dieser Aufkleber mischt das französische Motto “Liberté, Égalité Fraternité” mit einer Anti-AFD-Nachricht. Weil Alternative für Deutschland eine relativ rechtsextreme Partei ist, spiegelt die Farbauswahl des ersten antifaschistischen Aufklebers: Rot, Weiß und Schwarz.

This sticker combines the French motto “Liberté, Égalité Fraternité” with an anti-AFD message. [AFD stands for the German Alternative für Deutschland political party.] Because of the AFD party’s right extremist platform, the color selection here mirrors that of the first antifascist stickers: red, white and black.

Auf diesem Aufkleber, gibt es Texte auf Deutsch und Englisch. Dieser Aufkleber vereint Botschaften von deutschen und globalen Antifaschismus und gegen die Idee von dem Suprematismus der Weißen. Die Farben dieses Aufklebers spiegeln den Farben auf den anderen Aufklebern mit der gleichen Nachricht. Die sind natürlich Rot, Schwarz und Weiß.

The text on this sticker there is in both English and German. This sticker stands with German and global antifascism against the ideas of white supremacy. The colors of this sticker mirror those of the other stickers with similar messages. They are, of course, red, white and black.

Die Verwendung ähnlicher Bilder und verschiedener Sprachen in diesen antifaschistischen Aufklebern zeigt die moderne und historische antifaschistische Ideologie. Diese Ideologie ist Widerstand gegen die Vorherrschaft der Rasse und der Kultur und für die Unterstützung der Verschiedenheit. Diese Ideologie unterstützt auch natürlich die internationale Solidarität, die Informationen in vielen verschiedenen Sprachen erfordert.

The use of similar images and diverse languages in antifascist stickers shows both the modern and historical antifascist ideology. This is one of resistance against racism and of support for diversity. This ideology also stands for international solidarity, reflecting the use of several languages to get their message across.

Work Cited

Jackson, Paul: “Anti-Fascism in Historical Context.” Political Extremism and Radicalism in the Twentieth Century, Cengage Learning (EMEA) Ltd, 2018.

Sticker making workshop with St. Lawrence University First-Year Program class

Two SLU professors, Steve Barnard (Sociology) and John Collins (Global Studies), brought their First-Year Program class to the gallery in November 2019 for a hands-on sticker making workshop. The name of the course is “Question Everything: The Art of Information Activism,” and the syllabus states:

This course is for students who want to be activists for change and activists for truth. Activists are people who seek to transform dominant social structures through collective action that often stretches beyond the official political system. Activists start by asking deep questions about the world. Why is there so much injustice? How can we envision a better world and work toward making it happen? How can we get free from the forces that constrain us? Answering these questions requires the ability to navigate through the “information overload” of today’s world. Activists understand how to use information effectively and ethically, how to make their own media, and how to use the resources available to them to build community, promote truth, and pursue change. In this course we will explore powerful examples of activists who are asking big questions and using information creatively to develop solutions from the ground up. We will develop critical perspectives that connect the local to the global and the personal to the broader social world. We will learn important skills of investigation, analysis, and activism and put those skills to work in ways that (hopefully) promote truth and positive change.

We started the class by looking at activist posters from Justseeds, a decentralized worker-owned cooperative of thirty artists throughout North America. In 2018, St. Lawrence University purchased over a hundred posters from a series called Celebrate People’s History organized and curated by Josh MacPhee. Josh writes:

The Celebrate People’s History posters are rooted in the do-it-yourself tradition of mass-produced and distributed political propaganda, but détourned to embody principles of democracy, inclusion, and group participation in the writing and interpretation of history. It’s rare today that a political poster is celebratory, and when it is, it almost always focuses on a small canon of male individuals: MLK, Ghandi, Che, or Mandela. Rather than create another exclusive set of heroes, I’ve generated a diverse set of posters that bring to life successful moments in the history of social justice struggles. To that end, I’ve asked artists and designers to find events, groups, and people who have moved forward the collective struggle of humanity to create a more equitable and just world. The posters tell stories from the subjective position of the artists, and are often the stories of underdogs, those written out of history. The goal of this project is not to tell a definitive history, but to suggest a new relationship to the past.

We also looked at stickers from the exhibition Re-Writing the Streets: The International Language of Stickers that Oliver Baudach and I co-curated in 2015. I showed them examples of stickers that employ “culture jamming” techniques, a method used by artists and others to subvert mainstream media and corporate advertising.

As a warm-up, I asked students to draw an existing sticker, an exercise that helps get their creative juices flowing, as some are initially shy to express themselves visually. Having an external prompt like that works well.

Next, students spent the rest of class by drawing their own stickers from scratch and/or by using a template from the international Streetart Against Hate campaign (another external prompt that worked well). From the group’s website:

Hatred is a global theme and shows its nasty face in many different facets. It’s time to act, it’s time to get loud. About art as a means to an end and about social media for the worldwide networking of artists who set a sign against hatred. The project has been launched via Instagram in November 2018. The viral effect was already clearly perceptible on the net after a few days. Right from the beginning more than 100 artists from all over the world took part, among them many well-known ones like Thomas Baumgärtel (Bananensprayer) and Dave the Chimp joined the #nohatefamily movement. In March 2019, around 1000 artists are already actively setting a creative sign against hatred with their own individual designed #nohatefamily sticker. To set a sign against hatred means concretely to demonstrate by the union of the artists in the collages that we united stand for love, diversity and a peaceful togetherness. The bigger sticker collages are called “Walls of Love.”

Several students chose to draw a #nohate design, and we decided afterwards that we’re going to wheatpaste the drawings onto a piece of painted plywood as a collaborative art project. I’ll send a photo of the finished “Wall of Love” piece to the #nohatefamily levveunlevvelosse (live and let live) Instagram site, too.

“Paper Bullets” review in Berliner Zeitung

Kleben und leben lassen

Eine Ausstellung in Mitte widmet sich der einhundertjährigen Geschichte von politischen Stickern. Eine Reise von Montreal über New York an die Spree

Von Paul Linke

Es gibt ein paar Orte in Berlin, die als Hall of Fame der alternativen Stickerszene bezeichnet werden: die Fassade des Kino Intimes und das gesamte RAW-Gelände in Friedrichshain, in Mitte das Haus Schwarzenberg und die S-Bahnbögen am Hackeschen Markt Richtung Alexanderplatz. Wer dort klebt, lebt in einer tendenziell linken Welt, im Dauerwiderstand gegen Kriegstreiber, Spekulanten, Rassisten, Nazis. Im Gegensatz zum Sprühen ist Kleben keine Sachbeschädigung, sondern eine Ordnungswidrigkeit.

Die Wurzeln der politischen Stickerkunst reichen über einhundert Jahre zurück. Um 1910 entwarfen die Industrial Workers of the World die ersten Paper Bullets, auch stille Agitatoren genannt; das waren briefmarkenähnliche Protestaufkleber, die mit Spucke an Wänden, Türen und bestimmt auch mal auf der Stirn platziert werden konnten. Neben den in Gewerkschaften organisierten Stahlarbeitern in den USA waren auch Frauen, die ihr Wahlrecht erstreiten wollten, die kreativen Treiber dieses neuen Protestformats, das sich besonders in Städten zu einem präsenten Medium entwickelt hat. Darüber und über vieles mehr erzählt eine von der Autorin und leidenschaftlichen Stickersammlerin Catherine Tedford kuratierte Ausstellung in der Berliner Neurotitan Gallery, die an diesem Sonnabend eröffnet wird.

Tedford wohnt in New York, doch die meisten Aufkleber fand sie auf ihren Streifzügen durch Deutschland und vor allem in der Welthauptstadt der Sticker: Berlin. Am Anfang ihrer Sammlerkarriere kratzte Tedford die Sticker von Hauswänden, Klotüren, Laternen oder Abflussrohren. Inzwischen verfügt sie über ein weltweites Netzwerk, das sie mit neuem und altem Klebestoff versorgt.

So einfach wie heute war die Stickerherstellung übrigens nie. Man entwirft ein Motiv am Computer, schickt die Dateien an eine Druckfirma, die dann etwa verspricht: „Biologisch abbaubare seidenmatte Folie mit starkem UV-Schutz und auf der Rückseite geschlitzt. Die umweltfreundliche und wetterfeste Variante, perfekt für draußen geeignet.“ In der Berliner Hall of Fame ist noch Platz, ein paar Quadratzentimeter zumindest.

Bildunterschrifte, von links nach rechts, von oben bis unten:

Gegen Intoleranz seit 2007: Das Aktionsbündnis des schwul-lesbischen Fanklubs „Queerpass Sankt Pauli“ und der Fanszene des FC St. Pauli tritt jeder Form von Diskriminierung entgegen. Nicht nur im Fußballstation.

Gegen Massenmöbelkonsum 2013: Sticker des Berliner Street-Art-Künstlers Mein lieber Prost. Seine Werke heißen „Prosties“, sind immer humorvoll und fast immer gesellschafts- oder kapitalismuskritisch.

Für Verstand am Ufer 2010: Demonstrationsaufruf gegen die investorenfreundliche Städtebaupolitik des Berliner Senats entlang der Spree. Die Stadt wurde leider nicht gerettet. Siehe auch Initiative „Media Spree versenken“.

Für indigene Eigentumsrechte 2015: Sticker der Aktivistin Zola, die auf die Ausbeutung der indigenen Völker in Kanada aufmerksam macht. Das Stadtgebiet um Montreal gehörte einst dem Stamm der Mohawk.

Für Frieden in Vietnam 1969: Die New Yorker Friedensorganisation National Peace Action Coalition rief auch mit Stickern zu Demonstrationen auf. Sechs Jahre später verließen die US-Truppen das Land in Südostasien.

Gegen Atomraketen 1982: Protestaufkleber – feuchtfröhlich Spuckie genannt – gegen die Stationierung der Pershing II und BGM-109 Tomahawk in Westeuropa. Der Künstler ist unbekannt. Die Protestausgang schon.

Für ein buntes Leben 2017: Teil einer Stickerserie der Künstlerinnen Aaron Huez and Shepard Fairey für mehr ethnische, kulturelle und religiöse Vielfalt. Eine amerikanisch konnotierte Version von „Wir sind das Volk“.

English translation

Stick and Let Live

An exhibit in Berlin’s Mitte district dedicates itself to the hundred-year history of political stickers: A trip from Montreal through New York to the Spree

By Paul Linke

There are a few places in Berlin considered to constitute the hall of fame of the alternative sticker scene: the façade of the movie theater “Kino Intimes” and the entirety of the “RAW-Gelände” in Friedrichshain, as well the Schwarzenberg House and the tramrail arches at the Hackescher Markt square near Alexanderplatz in Mitte. Everyone who puts up their stickers here lives in a typically left-wing world in constant opposition against warmongers, capitalist businessmen, racists and Nazis. In contrast to spray-paint graffiti, however, stickers aren’t a form of property damage but merely a low-level infringement.

The roots of political sticker art reach over one hundred years back. In 1910, the Industrial Workers of the World designed the first “Paper Bullets,” also known as silent agitators. These were postage stamp-sized protest stickers, that could be stuck with spit on walls, doors and no doubt on foreheads from time to time. Alongside the unionized steelworkers in the USA were the women fighting for voting rights and driving the creativity of this new protest format that has developed into a relevant medium, particularly in cities. Author and passionate sticker collector Catherine Tedford presents this history and much more in her curated exhibit in the Berlin Neurotitan Gallery, opening this Saturday.

Tedford lives in New York, but most of the stickers were found on her travels through Germany, primarily in the capital city of stickers: Berlin. At the beginning of her collecting career, Tedford scraped stickers from house walls, bathroom doors, lampposts or drainpipes. She currently possesses a worldwide network of stickers old and new.

Sticker production was not always a simple task. Nowadays, you can draw up a design on a computer and send it to a print shop that then makes the promise of a “biodegradable matte-finish film with strong UV protection, slotted on the back. The environmentally friendly and weatherproof version, perfect for the outdoors.” There is still some room in the Berlin sticker hall of fame—a couple square centimeters, at the very least.

Image captions, from left to right and top to bottom:

Against intolerance since 2007: The activism coalition composed of the gay-lesbian fan club “Queerpass Sankt Pauli” and the fan scene of the soccer team FC St. Pauli fights every form of discrimination, and not only in the soccer stadium.

Against mass-produced furniture consumption 2013: A sticker from the Berlin street artists “Mein lieber Prost.” His works are called “Prosties,” are always humorous and almost always critical of society or capitalism.

For reason on the shore 2010: A call to demonstration along the river Spree against the investor-friendly city development politics of the Berlin senate. Unfortunately, the city was not saved. See also the initiative called “Media Spree Versenken.”

For indigenous property rights 2015:  A sticker from the activist Zola, who brings attention to the exploitation of the indigenous peoples in Canada. The land around Montreal originally belonged to the Mohawk tribe.

For peace in Vietnam 1969: The New Yorker peace organization National Peace Action Coalition also used stickers to call people to demonstrations. Six years later, the US troops left the country in Southeast Asia.

Against nuclear missiles 1982: Protest stickers – called “boozy spit-stickers” – against the stationing of the Pershing II and BGM-109 Tomahawk in Western Europe. The artist is unknown. The outcome of the demonstration is, however.

For a colorful life 2017: Part of a sticker series from the artists Aaron Huez and Shepard Fairey for more ethnic, cultural and religious diversity. An American connoted version of “Wir sind das Volk.”

Special thanks to Brendan Reilly, St. Lawrence University Class of 2020, for the English translation.

“Paper Bullets – the expanded version” at Neurotitan Gallery in Berlin, Germany

In the summer of 2019, I was given the opportunity to present an expanded version of my Paper Bullets exhibition at the acclaimed Neurotitan Gallery in Berlin, Germany. Oliver Baudach, the director of Hatch Kingdom Sticker Museum, was the driving force that made the project possible. It was an enormous undertaking, in that for the first time I drew from my entire collection of thousands of new, unused, historical and contemporary political stickers from around the world.

Neurotitan is a non-commercial, alternative art gallery that features urban art. Housed in the Haus Schwarzenberg in Mitte, the gallery dates back to 1995. The entrance to the gallery is located away from the street, and the walls leading up to it are covered with painted murals, wheatpastes, stencils, yarn bombs, and stickers. Every public street art tour in Berlin stops here to see the ever-changing outdoor displays and the rotating exhibitions inside. I knew when I first saw the space in the mid-2000s that I wanted to show my stickers there, and my dream came true this year.

Exhibition planning

Even though for the past 15+ years, I’ve scanned over 11,000 stickers (which you can view in Flickr albums), I started scanning any other un-scanned stickers in January 2019 to make sure I had image files for everything that would go into the show. The photo below shows one of three pages of notes related to scanning several hundreds of additional stickers this year.

I’m now in the process of typing this info into my “simple spreadsheet” (now 15 pages long). The lines in red indicate the scanning done this year and the image files that will need cropping and color adjusting. Yipes. It will be useful for when I go to publish a book, though!

In early May 2019, I started making selections for the show. Since classes at St. Lawrence University were over, I was able to use the printmaking studio there to set everything out and see all of the groupings side by side. I asked SLU faculty and students in Modern Languages and Global Studies for their input on my selections to make sure I had organized everything correctly, especially for stickers from countries other than the US and Canada. A contact in Spain (GG) provided valuable input and caught a few mistakes (i.e., right-wing groups often appropriate left-wing images and text, which tripped me up a few times with the Spanish stickers).

Oli also came to St. Lawrence later that month to put together the SHE SLAPS traveling show, and we had enough time during his visit for him to go through my selections. He speaks Spanish and German and helped with stickers from those countries, caught a few dupes, and made some other recommendations.

We ended up with over 2,200 stickers from over a dozen countries grouped on 54 sticker boards by geographic location, date, and subject.

I went to Berlin at the end of July to frame the sticker boards with Oli, and Neurotitan staff installed the show. The gallery itself is huge with about 285 running feet of wall space and lots of big windows for natural light.

Opening night

 

Exhibition announcement

English text panel

Paper Bullets: 100 Years of Political Stickers from Around the World

-the expanded edition-

Publicly placed stickers with printed images and/or text have been used for decades as a form of political protest or to advocate political agendas. In the United States, for example, as early as the mid-1910s, labor unions created the first “stickerettes” or “silent agitators” to oppose poor working conditions, intimidate bosses, and condemn capitalism.

Later, during World War II, western Allied and Axis countries dropped gummed “paper bullets” or “confetti soldiers” from the sky as a form of psychological warfare to demoralize both troops and civilians. During the 1960s and ’70s American civil rights era, paper “night raiders” protested the war in Vietnam and U.S. imperialism, and called for racial and gender equity among blacks, whites, men, and women. Colorful, lightweight German spuckies have also been used for several decades to combat fascism and sexism and to comment on environmental issues.

Drawing from the private collection of Catherine Tedford (US), the exhibition features over 2,270 original, unused political stickers from Canada, Egypt, England, Germany, Indonesia, Spain, Ukraine, United States, and other countries, dating from the early 20th century to present day. The exhibition is organized by subject, including labor and workers’ rights, gender and sexuality, racism, surveillance, war and conflict, the environment, and police brutality. Stickers are also grouped by geographic location and date.

Catherine Tedford, gallery director at St. Lawrence University, first discovered street art stickers while visiting Berlin in 2003 and has since collected over 12,000 examples from countries around the world. She writes about political stickers on her research blog Stickerkitty and has presented papers at academic conferences in Canada, England, Germany, Scotland, and the United States. In 2014 and 2015, two smaller Paper Bullets exhibitions were presented at Hatch Kingdom Sticker Museum, Berlin, Germany. Variations of Paper Bullets have also been featured in the U.S. at Susquehanna University (PA) in 2015 and at Central Washington University (WA) and St. Lawrence University (NY) in 2017.

In 2015, St. Lawrence University received a multi-year grant from the U.S. Council of Independent Colleges through the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to digitize the stickers for a Street Art Graphics digital archive, which is made available for education and research. To view the digital archive, visit https://library.artstor.org/#/collection/87730635.

“SHE SLAPS: Street Art Stickers by Women Artists from Around the World” traveling exhibition at SLU

The exhibition SHE SLAPS: Street Art Stickers by Women Artists from Around the World closes at St. Lawrence University this week. Here is the co-curator’s statement I wrote about the project:

SHE SLAPS features 536 street art stickers by 85 contemporary women artists from 20 countries around the world. Drawn from the private collection of Oliver Baudach, founder and director of Hatch Kingdom Sticker Museum in Berlin, Germany, the exhibition includes stickers individually drawn, painted, and/or printed by the artists, as well as silkscreen, offset, and digital designs that were printed in larger runs through commercial services. In the spring of 2019, Baudach also sent out a worldwide call-for-entries for new stickers to add to the SHE SLAPS exhibition and to St. Lawrence University’s Street Art Graphics digital archive.

The exhibition includes portraits of women and men, fanciful “character design” creatures, and various images and text that function as artists’ “tags.” Female personas represented in the exhibition range from dolls, punks, and riot grrls to femmes fatales and leading ladies. A handful of artists address political subjects, with one artist using photos of her cat Illchmann as a spoof on Grumpy Cat in order to comment on sexism, racism, and gun violence. The exhibition organizers also noted that the stickers in the show, with few exceptions, exclude images of violence, skulls, or military-related themes often found in stickers by some male artists.

Several artists contributed works that are part of an ongoing global campaign called Streetart Against Hate: To Live and Let Live, in which artists can download circular templates with text in different languages and design their own stickers (click on link to view photos from the #nohatefamily sticker campaign).

When asked, many artists in the exhibition indicated that identifying as a female affected their work, while others felt that gender and sexuality did not play a role. All of the artists indicated a strong sense of solidarity among street artists in general, however, whether male or female.

A grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to the U.S. Council of Independent Colleges provided funding support to St. Lawrence University to catalogue stickers by women artists for the Street Art Graphics digital archive.

_________________________________________________

As of today, there are 433 newly catalogued stickers in the digital archive, with a few hundred more in the works from a previous scanning job at Hatch Kingdom in 2017. Special thanks to SLU’s arts metadata technician, Arline Wolfe, and Tyler Senecharles ’20.

Screen Shot 2019-10-07 at 1.37.04 PM

In conjunction with the exhibition, the Richard F. Brush Art Gallery also hosted an informal discussion and sticker making workshop with the Boston-based, self-taught artist ANKANA. Over 35 students and a handful of older community members attended, drawing on USPS Label 228s and Hello-My-Name-Is stickers with colored pencils and markers.

IMG_9042

With the female-based SHE SLAPS show, it wasn’t surprising to see so many women show up for the workshop (I counted three men in the crowd), and women’s themes certainly emerged in many of the stickers everyone made.

Artist’s Statement

ANKANA, a.k.a the Harami Artist (she/her), is originally from Assam, India. Her earliest exposure to art came from seeing her grandmother’s creations and watching her father paint. Although creativity ran in the family, she was never encouraged to pursue art as a profession. Being surrounded by nature in her childhood heavily influenced her, and that influence permeates her work today. She experiments with ink, acrylic paint, watercolor, fiber, collage, and digital photography, creating surreal imagery with elements of fantasy, grounded in reality as she experiences it. Using detailed patterns and bright colors, her work centers on and celebrates nature and wom*n/femme in a positive way.

ANKANA started her sticker journey in 2017. In 2018, she participated in and helped organize the Priority Made Sticker show in Boston, Massachusetts. You can see her work on IG @beankana.

Symbols of Hate

IMG_7902

I found another alt-right sticker in Potsdam, NY, last week. This one was a heavy vinyl sticker compared to the lightweight paper “Pepe the Frog” white power stickers I found last January along the same block. In a December 30, 2016, Vox article called “The 2016 culture war, as illustrated by the alt-right,” author Aja Romano writes that the figure on this sticker represents:

“…the head of the Egyptian frog-god Kek superimposed over an image of his counterpart, the Egyptian snake god Kauket, in a seal inscribed with the Latin phrase ‘satis mentibus obvia,’ or, ‘resist closed minds.’ It’s complicated, but basically, through a series of meme-heavy coincidences involving 4chan’s use of ‘kek’ as a synonym for ‘lol,’ 4chan users profess to believe that Pepe (yes, the cartoon frog) is a reincarnation of Kek, an Egyptian frog-god who ruled over chaos and darkness, and that his coming is a sign that Donald Trump will save them all. Their satirical worship is what turned Pepe from a random internet meme into a racist and white nationalist meme symbol of hate. The ordeal understandably left [the original artist Matt] Furie outraged and upset, and he began a ‘take back Pepe’ campaign in October.”

I photographed the sticker and removed it from the street pole and will show this photo and the photos from earlier this year to the Potsdam police, as suggested by the Anti-Defamation League in NYC. For more information on racist and fascist symbols, see the ADL’s website Hate on Display: Hate Symbols Database.


Categories

Archives

Flickr Photos

July 2020
S M T W T F S
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728293031