Stickers, aufkleber, street art, political posters, des affiches, ephemera
I have acquired ten new I.W.W. stickerettes! They came from a packet with text on the cover that reads “Stickerettes – Silent Agitators – Fifteen Different Designs – Black And Red – Stick ’Um Up!” There is also an image of a black sab cat in a wooden shoe that was likely designed by or borrowed from Ralph Chaplin, whom I’ve written about before. Sorry for the poor screen shot of the envelope; it’s the best I could get.
I can confirm the dates of these stickerettes, too. The I.W.W. headquarters were located at 1001 West Madison Street in Chicago, the address listed on the envelope, from July 1917 to March 1925.
You can see the new stickerettes on my Flickr site here (scroll down to the bottom). I now have 41 stickerettes in my collection; a few of them are duplicate designs with one printed in black or red and the other printed in both black and red.
The stickerette “Why Be A Soldier? Be A Man, Join The I.W.W. And Fight On The Job For Yourself And Your Class.” is one that undoubtedly got the I.W.W. and union members in trouble with the U.S. government. On September 5, 1917, federal agents raided I.W.W. offices across the country, and 100 union leaders and members were later arrested and charged with sedition under the newly created Espionage Act of 1917 that was enacted a few months beforehand (along with another charge of violating postal laws by mailing out stickerettes and other printed matter).
I can finally confirm dates of some of the earliest I.W.W. stickers in my collection. The August 31, 1918, edition of The Literary Digest ran an article called “Branding the I.W.W.” that features three stickers with the caption, “Typical I.W.W. Propaganda—Stickers Circulated in the Northwest.”
Unfortunately, the article doesn’t say anything about the stickers themselves, but it describes the conviction of 100 I.W.W. members for treason soon after the beginning of World War I and the subsequent passage of the U.S. Espionage Act. The artist and poet Ralph Chaplin, whom I’ve written about in previous posts and for the People’s History Archive, was one of those union members arrested and convicted, and I imagine he created these early stickers, known at the time as “stickerettes” or “silent agitators.”
Other articles in this edition include “Grenades to Suit Everybody,” Germany’s Gigantic War Profits,” and “Why Germany Destroys Art.”
In my search for the earliest U.S. political stickers, I’ve come across overty thirty different “stickerettes” or “silent agitators” produced by the Industrial Workers of the World dating from the mid-1910s to present day. Stickerettes were advertised in I.W.W. pamphlets and newspapers as early as 1917, based on microfilm reels I’ve viewed of the group’s Solidarity newspaper. I don’t have anything else that dates the earliest stickerettes, however. (Search “stickerette” on Stickerkitty to see previous posts on these items.)
However, recently I found this women’s suffrage sticker from 1915 that is dated and affixed to an envelope also dated 1915! (New Jersey voted no in the October 19th referendum, as did New York, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania. New York passed the vote in 1917; Massachusetts in 1920; and Pennsylvania also in 1920. The latter two states passed only after Congress ratified the 19th Amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote on August 19, 1920.)
The envelope was sent from the “Penna. Men’s League for Women’s Suffrage.” Here is a map published by the league of how the vote was split across the state for and against.
Initiated in 2015 by the Richard F. Brush Art Gallery and the Libraries and Instructional Technology (LIT) division at St. Lawrence University (Canton, NY), the People’s History Archive features selected street art stickers, posters, and ephemera from around the world dating from the 1910s to present day. Contributors include undergraduate students, young alumni, and faculty who create mini-online interpretive exhibits using items from a Street Art Graphics digital archive and/or from items contributors have selected themselves through off-campus research projects. Items can also be viewed on an interactive timeline and map.
The original Street Art Graphics digital archive was created in 2004 in a platform called ContentDM, and it now features over 2,600 stickers with another hundred posters, fliers, city cards, one-of-a-kind drawings by street artists, and other street-based ephemera. In 2015, the U.S. Council of Independent Colleges selected the Street Art Graphics collection as one of 42 projects across the country to be included in Artstor’s Shared Shelf Commons, an international digital library of arts and sciences. St. Lawrence received a four-year grant to migrate and build the collection and to enhance its use in teaching and scholarship.
The People’s History Archive also represents a collaboration between the Street Art Graphics digital archive and the Weave, an independent news media project created in 2006 and headquartered in the Global Studies department. Catherine Tedford, gallery director, and John Collins, professor of Global Studies, received a four-year mini-grant from an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Humanities grant to St. Lawrence University entitled “Crossing Boundaries: Re-envisioning the Humanities in the 21st Century.” One component of the project, Weaving the Streets, offers contributors the opportunity to write investigative blog posts about topics of interest that are under-reported in mainstream news media.
The People’s History Archive was built in Drupal by Eric Williams-Bergen, Director of Digital Initiatives at St. Lawrence University.
For more information, see my previous post Weaving the Streets & People’s History Archive (WSPHA) from last year. It’s been fascinating to see the project unfold and to see how websites are conceptualized and designed. There are still a few tweaks to work through, but with this post I’m now ready to go public with it. A dream come true! The subtitle for the site is “street art stickers, posters, ephemera – documenting the creative and complex ways people make use of public space.” The site will feature scans of physical items (i.e., not born-digital photographs, which are featured on the Weaving the Streets blog).
At this point, the plan is to have four umbrella projects and multiple exhibits within each.
Paper Bullets: My work on political stickers from around the world – under construction. I created one exhibit on U.S. Industrial Workers of the World I.W.W. “Stickerettes” or “Silent Agitators” as a model to show students; additional exhibits will follow.
Pegatinas Políticas: In the summer of 2015, Laurel Hurd ’16 expanded her Weaving the Streets experience with an SLU Student Research Fellowship, in which she added approximately 75 Spanish street art stickers to the People’s History Archive and wrote four exhibits:
Street Art @ SLU: Work from students in my street art course – under construction. To date, one exhibit by Rebecca Clayman ’17 has been published on the German Feminist Movement (1970s to present day). Another two exhibits will be published soon on indigenous/Native American stickers and on culture jamming.
Weaving the Streets: Work by students and young alumni in the Mellon Humanities grant-funded project – under construction. Sean Morrissey ’16 is working on an exhibit on tourism in Thailand. Carolyn Dellinger ’16, the student who catalogued a group of German spuckies in 2014, is also working on an exhibit on environmental issues and animal rights in the UK.
Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon
Friday, March 4, 2016, from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m.
Newell Center for Arts Technology
Noble Center Room 108
St. Lawrence University (Canton, NY)
In conjunction with International Women’s Day, St. Lawrence University will be one of 125 locations around the globe to host a 2016 Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon. Last year, over 1,500 participants at more than 75 events created nearly 400 new pages and made significant improvements to 500 articles on Wikipedia. Since the group’s founding in 2014, edit-a-thon focus areas include female artists, works of art by women, social reformers, activists, and feminists. The SLU edit-a-thon also encourages contributions about women across the arts in music, theater performance, and elsewhere.
According to the organizers, “Art+Feminism is a rhizomatic campaign to improve coverage of women and the arts on Wikipedia, and to encourage female editorship. Wikimedia Foundation found that less than 10% of its contributors identify as female. While the reasons for the gender gap are up for debate, the practical effect of this disparity is not. Content is skewed by the lack of female participation. This represents an alarming absence in an increasingly important repository of shared knowledge. We invite people of all gender identities and expressions, particularly transgender, cisgender, and gender nonconforming women, to address this absence by organizing in-person, communal updating of Wikipedia’s entries on art and feminism.”
Participants in the Wikipedia edit-a-thon will learn how to edit existing articles and/or create new pages, as well as gain an understanding of core Wikipedia fundamentals, including “neutrality, notability, and citation.” All members of the North Country community are welcome, and previous experience is not required. Knowledgeable editors will be on hand to provide support.
Co-organized by Catherine Tedford, Director of the Richard F. Brush Art Gallery, and Leila Walker, Assistant Director of the “Crossing Boundaries” Mellon Humanities Grant, with assistance from Renee McGarry, senior instructional designer for Sotheby’s Institute of Art. Co-sponsored by St. Lawrence University’s Richard F. Brush Art Gallery, “Crossing Boundaries” Mellon Humanities Grant, Newell Center for Arts Technology, and Libraries and Information Technology. Light refreshments will be provided. Seating is limited; to register please contact Catherine at firstname.lastname@example.org (315 229-5174) or Leila at email@example.com (315 229-5486).
Evans, Siân. ACRLog. Why GLAM Wiki: Wikipedia and Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums. December 15, 2015; accessed February 4, 2016.
Hamlin, Amy K. Art History Teaching Resources. Art History, Feminism, and Wikipedia. December 11, 2015; accessed February 4, 2016.
Thom, Alexandra and Saisha Grayson-Knoth. Art History Teaching Resources. Making History: Wikipedia Editing as Pedagogical and Public Intervention. March 7, 2014; accessed February 4, 2016.
Margaret Chandler is a Global Studies major who recently spent a semester in Kathmandu working with a group of street artists.
Sarah Churbuck, a.k.a. “Miss Phiddler,” is from Florida and has been creating different images related to the ocean, especially mermaids.
Rebecca Clayman is the queen of D-I-Y, often spending hours making intricate one-of-a-kind handmade envelopes on found papers and boards. This sticker is similar.
Samiya Haque has become enamored with stickers as a result of this class. Her street name is Squitch. Here is what she wrote about her submissions to the exhibition:
“Three of the stickers I am sending to SLAPS 2 are all hand drawn cultural patterns or doodles closely portraying my South Asian roots. The patterns for two of the stickers are inspired by traditional “henna” designs, and the red dragon sticker is inspired by the countless Chinese artifacts that my parents collected during their diplomatic posting to China. I found that by drawing these designs on the US postal blanks, I could make a statement on how the U.S. is a melting pot of various cultures. I intend to continue drawing detailed patterns inspired by other cultures on U.S. postal blanks to eventually make a collection.”
Kiowere “Distant Thunder” Rourke is a Mohawk artist from the nearby Akwesasne Reservation. He wrote this about his sticker:
“The sticker juxtaposes the two-row wampum (a peace treaty between the Iroquois and new settlers) of my culture with the image that defines my generation of the burning twin towers of 9/11. The sticker represents the de-culturalization of my people and other aboriginal cultures around the world and the destruction of treaties and peace in the world.”
And here is the silkscreened sticker I submitted to the exhibition. With a nod to the I.W.W., I appropriated their iconic Sab Cat and also used the I Can Has Cheezburger? Internet meme to say “Stickerkitty Can Has Metadata.” The zeros and ones binary code spell out the same text. This sticker is a tribute to all the digital projects I’ve been working on lately!