Archive for the '“The Process is the Product”' Category

“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

German 103 writing assignment at SLU – fall 2018 – three examples

In the fall of 2018, St. Lawrence University students in Dr. Brook Henkel’s German 103 class again incorporated contemporary street art stickers from Germany for a writing assignment called “Politische Plakate und Aufkleber in Deutschland” (similar to what his students did in the fall of 2017). As before, I introduced the assignment by giving a brief talk with slides describing the ubiquitous sticker culture in Berlin, focusing on topics such as urban development, gentrification, police authority, surveillance, and identity politics. Students then came to the gallery where I work to look at three sets of original, unused stickers from my collection:

  • 34 political stickers that I picked up in May-June of 2017 at a squat/community resource center in Berlin called Infoladen Daneben;
  • 58 political stickers that Oliver Baudach sent to me in May of 2018 from Berlin’s annual May Day festival and from other sources (Oli is the founder and director of Hatch Kingdom in Berlin, the world’s first and only sticker museum); and
  • 47 political stickers that Oli sent to me in August of 2018.

Before coming to class, the students also read two short articles that I wrote about SLU’s Street Art Graphics digital archive and about Hatch Kingdom:

Brook gave me three of the best examples of writing that his students did, which I’ll share below. In response to the assignment, he wrote:

“In all of my German language and culture classes, I try to give my students a sense of the robust culture of democratic politics and activism in Germany today. In a country still shaped by memories of fascist dictatorship under the Nazis and one-party socialist rule in the former GDR, Germans are far less likely than Americans to take for granted the benefits of a free, open, and democratic society. I’m enormously thankful to Cathy Tedford, Director of the Brush Art Gallery, for the opportunity to bring this culture home, by allowing my students to engage with authentic cultural materials related to contemporary German politics and activism. In both the Fall 2017 and 2018 semesters, Cathy gave a presentation and organized a gallery visit for my Intermediate German students to learn about and study her extensive collection of German political stickers and street art. By looking through her collection, students encounter a range of themes, from environmentalism to feminism, anti-fascism, and the politics of immigration. This work challenges both their skills in German language as they work to read and understand the political messages, as well as their knowledge of contemporary German politics. They select several stickers on a single political theme and work to compose an essay in German that provides a cultural, political, and historical context for understanding the political stickers and then develops a close reading of their verbal and visual strategies. The assignment works wonderfully as an impetus for developing, at once, new cultural knowledge, skills in formal analysis, and more sophisticated writing in German. The students tend to recognize the considerable challenge of the assignment, but are always motivated to push their abilities, since the materials seem so politically relevant.”

He also wrote:

“The one change I think I will make for next year is to have them do some short readings in German in advance related to the main political topics represented by the stickers. It would be good to have them get a sense for the relevant vocabulary and political issues in advance. I still like the kind of exploration and ‘figuring things out’ that happens as the students go around and try to decipher the stickers––in a way, like they would if they were encountering them as street art in a German city. But I still see the need to dedicate a bit of class-time and assigned reading in advance to get them to engage on a deeper level.”

Brook Henkel’s writing assignment:

On Friday, December 1 in class, we will be meeting with the Director of the Brush Art Gallery Cathy Tedford to study her collection of German political stickers. Our goal for this class will be for each student to identify three stickers of interest that have a similar political theme (anti-fascism, feminism, gay rights, anti-racism, environmentalism, economics, migration, refugees, specific political figures, etc.). Based on your common interests with others in the class, you will begin working in pairs to discuss, translate, interpret, and analyze your chosen images.

Due next Friday, December 8, will be your fourth and final essay, which will describe the cultural and historical context for your selected images along with a close analysis of one of the political stickers. Your essay should have a three-paragraph format:

  1. introduction of the political, historical, and/or cultural context in Germany referred to by the stickers (Here, you might need to do a little research online. When describing past events and conditions in Germany, pay attention to the proper verb tenses of “Imperfekt/Präteritum” and “Plusquamperfekt” and use each of the following conjunctions at least once: “als”, “nachdem”, “bevor”);
  2. introduction and close formal analysis of one of the images; and
  3. a discussion of all 3 images in general and commentary on their collective message and strategy as visually striking combinations of text and image.

Note: When you’ve completed either a full first draft or are working to polish a final draft, you are free to visit the German Writing Center in the Language Resource Center on the second floor of Carnegie Hall, Sundays through Thursdays from 8:00 to 10:00 p.m. An advanced student in German will be there to read your complete draft and help you identify and correct any grammatical or stylistic mistakes.

das Plakat(e) = a poster adhering to outdoor surfaces for advertising, art, protest, etc.

der Aufkleber = an adhesive sticker or label, also used in political street art.

Here are the three examples of student writing from the assignment.

Feminismus by Rebecca Shyne, SLU Class of 2021

Deutschland hat eine lange Geschichte mit Frauen in der Politik. Die Frauenbewegung begann 1888 bis 1918 während Wilhelminismus. Nachdem die erste Welle von Feminismus in den USA und in Australien begonnen hatte, mochte deutsche Frauen sich in die Politik engagieren. Frauen wollten mehr Gelegenheiten für Studien und Lernen. Leider, in der Zeit von 1933 bis 1945, gaben die Nationalsozialisten den Frauen nicht viele Karrieremöglichkeiten. Nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg wollte die deutsche Gesellschaft Frauen zu ihrer traditionellen Rolle zurückkehren. Bevor Frauen ihre Rechte zurück bekamen, wurde die National Organisation für Frauen gegründet. Durchweg die Mitte des zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts, hatten Frauen ihre Rechten langsam bekommen. Als die Frauenbewegungen in Deutschland entstehen war, hat die Amerikanische Frauenbewegung am ersten entsteht. Die Gedanken von Frauen über der ganzen Welt und auch in Deutschland hatten ausgebreitet.

Das erste Foto spricht über Frauen und ihre Rechte. Es sagt in dickem Text „Gegen Rechte Hetze“. In der Mitte kann man eine Frau sehen. Sie heißt Ruby Rose und spielt die Rolle von „Rosie the Riveter“. Ruby Rose ist eine australische Schauspielerin, die in vielen Sendungen gespielt hatte. Auf ihren Armen hat sie ein paar Tätowierungen von einer Rose und Dinge über Liebe. Sie ist eine moderne Version von einer starken Frau, die beliebt und geliebt ist. Der Text auf der rechte Seite spricht über Frauen gegen Neonazis, rechte Hooligans, Parteien und Rassisten. Es ist eine Ankündigung für eine Kundgebung am Washingtonplatz in Berlin. Die Bilder benutzen rosa, weiß und schwarz in dem Foto. Der Stil der Fotos ist Punk und hat ein Rock-und-Roll Thema. Der Aufkleber ist auffällig und je mehr man sich es ansieht, desto mehre Auskunft man bekommen kann.

Die drei Aufkleber haben alle ein gleiches Thema: Frauen gegen schlechte Ideenlehre und Organisationen. Die Phrase, „sexistische kackscheisse“ spricht nur über Sexismus aber sieht wie der erste Aufkleber aus. Wir sehen rosa, schwarz und weiß für Farben auf beiden Bildern.

Die anderen Aufkleber benutzten die Farben ebenso, wie weiß und rot. Alle Bilder vertreten Frauenbewegung in moderne Gesellschaft. Frauen sind wichtig, bedeuten viel, und sollen eine Stimme in unserem täglichen Leben haben. Die Geschichte von Frauen ist nicht besonders gut oder einschließlich. Ohne Frauenschilderung, wurde die Welt von Männern geherrscht. Es ist wichtig, dass Frauen eine Stimme in dieser Gesellschaft haben.

Flüchtlingspolitik by Jayden Ladison, SLU Class of 2021

Als die Flüchtlinge im Sommer 2015 anfingen nach Deutschland zu reisen, hat Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel für sie eine Politik der offenen Tür geschaffen. Bevor diese Politik geschaffen wurde, hatten Deutschland und die Europäische Union die „Dublin-Politik” angewandt. Leider nachdem die Politik der offenen Tür eingesetzt wurde, hatte sich in Deutschland ein konservativer Standpunkt gegenüber Flüchtlingen entwickelt. Es gibt jedoch einige Hoffnung. Einige liberalen Demonstraten begannen mit Aufklebern, um die Akzeptanz von Flüchtlingen zu fördern.

Das erste Bild ist ziemlich klar. Es ist ein quadratischer Aufkleber. Der Hintergrund ist weiß mit einem dunkelen Flüchtlingsbett mit einem roten Kreuz darüber in der Mitte. Oben sind die Worte: „Wohnungen für alle!“ und darunten sind „Keine Flüchtlinge in Lager!“ Unter den Wörtern ist eine Informationswebsite im Rot. Es gibt ein paar Wortspiele darin. Das Wort „Lager“ bedeutet Camp und Magasin auf Deutsch, und so kritisiert mit einem Satz der Aufkleber viel über die deutsche Flüchtlingspolitik. Erstens, kritisiert es der Zustand der Gemeinschaftsunterkünfte in Deutschland. Die Gemeinschaftsunterkünfte sind nicht so gemütlich. Sie sind meistens renovierte Kaserne, die oft überfüllt sind. Die Betten sind auch nicht so komfortabel wie auf dem Aufkleber gezeigt wird. Dieser Aufkleber setzt sich eindeutig für bessere Bedingungen in den Gemeinschaftsunterkünften ein. Der Künstler des Stickers meint, dass Flüchtlinge wie Stock oder Dingen behandelt werden. Auch, die zweite Definition von „Lager“ ist für diesen Aufkleber wichtig. Der Künstler sieht auch Ähnlichkeiten zwischen den Flüchtlingen heute und jüdischen Menschen im Zweiten Weltkrieg. Der Künstler könnte vielleicht über die neue konservative Ideologie Deutschlands besorgt sein. Dies zeigt, dass Deutschland Flüchtlinge als „andere” behandeln wird, wie sie die Opfer des Holocaust behandeln. Der Aufkleber argumentiert, dass Deutschland nicht vergessen soll, dass die Flüchtlinge auch Menschen sind.

Der erste Aufkleber ist seinen Ansichten nicht allein. Viele Aufkleber wie diese sind in letzter Zeit beliebter geworden. Der zweite Aufkleber hat eine ähnliche Nachricht wie der Erste. Beide argumentieren, dass Deutschland für Flüchtlinge offen sein sollte und verweisen auch auf die Nazi Partei. Zuletzt der dritte Aufkleber wendet diese Idee auf der ganze von Europa an. Der zweite Aufkleber ist ein bisschen bunter als die anderen zwei, aber alle Aufkleber benutzen neutrale Farben. Grau, Weiß und Schwarz hebt sich von den bunten Aufklebern ab, die sie häufig umgeben. Es macht auch ihre Botschaften ernster. Alle diese Aufkleber zeigen, dass Flüchtlinge in Deutschland und Europa Willkommen sind. Wenn mehr dieser Aufkleber auftauchen, kann sich die Einstellung der Bürger Deutschlands zum Besseren ändern.

Bündnis 90/Die Grünen by Kamryn Ransom, SLU Class of 2021

Meine drei Aufkleber haben alle ein ähnliches Thema rund um Umweltbewusstsein. Mein Hauptaufkleber sagt: „Dem Klimawandel ist es egal, ob man ihn leugnet.“ Das Sprichwort auf dem Aufkleber ist ein Versprechen der Alliance 90 / The Greens. Die Alliance 90 / Die Grünen oder „Grünen“ sind eine grüne politische Partei in Deutschland. Die Partei­vorsitzenden sind Annalena Baerbock und Robert Habeck. Der Hauptsitz befindet sich in Berlin. Es wurde 1993 gegründet und konzentriert sich auf ökologische, ökonomische und soziale Nachhaltigkeit. Bevor das Bündnis 90/Die Grünen gegründet wurden, waren Die Grünen und das Bündnis 90 die grünen Parteien in West- und Ostdeutschland gewesen. Mein erster Nebenaufkleber sagt: „Ackergifte? Nein Danke!“ von der Landwende. Die Bürgerinitiative „Landwende“ wurde im 2001 als Reaktion auf eine massive Herbizidvergiftung gegründet. Das Ziel der Kampagne “Ackergifte? Nein, danke!” ist die Verwendung aller synthetischen Ackergifte zu verbieten. Ackergifte sind chemische Tötungsmittel, die gegen Pflanzen, Pilze, Insekten und Mikroorganismen auf den Äckern ausgebracht werden. Darunter sind hochgiftige Wirkstoffe, die Bienen töten und Menschen gesundheitlich schädigen. Mein zweiter Nebenaufkleber ist ein Bild von Groot von Marvel und sagt „Plant More Trees.“ Die Künstlerin ist eine Straßenkünstlerin aus Düsseldorf namens Matraeda. Matraeda verwendet geometrische Formen in ihrer Kunst.

Ich werde meinen Hauptaufkleber analysieren. Der Aufkleber ist ein grüner Kreis mit einem kleineren rosa Kreis. Im Vordergrund steht eine Sonnenblume. Unter der Sonnenblume sagt: „Darum Grün.“ „Warum grün“ steht für die Alliance 90 / The Greens. Die Mitte des rosa Kreises sagt: „ Dem Klimawandel ist es egal, ob man ihn leugnet.“ Auf Englisch heißt es: „ Climate change does not care if you deny it.“ Das Sprichwort war der Titel des Artikels auf ihrer Website am 27. August.  In dem Artikel heißt es, dass die Menschen sozial und politisch umdenken müssen, wenn wir nicht alle zum Scheitern verurteilt sind. Alliance 90 / The Greens versprach eine echte Alternative im Kampf gegen die Klimawandel-Leugner. Auf dem Aufkleber heißt es, dass der Klimawandel stattfindet, ob wir nun daran glauben oder nicht.

Alle drei Aufkleber sind durch Umweltprobleme miteinander verbunden. Die Aufkleber enthalten alle die Farbe Grün und ein Naturbild; eine Sonnenblume, eine Biene und ein Baumcharakter. Der Hauptaufkleber ist das Gesamtbild des Klimawandels. Bei den beiden anderen Aufklebern stellen sie dar, wie sich der Klimawandel auf die Umwelt auswirkt. Die drei Aufkleber zeigen die Wichtigkeit der Natur. Bienen liefern uns viele Nahrung und Bäume lassen uns atmen. Als ich ein Kind war, wurde mir die Wichtigkeit der Umwelt gelehrt. Uns wurde eine Geschichte erzählt, die Wichtigkeit der Natur zeigte. Die Botschaft der Geschichte war einfach. Nachdem wir weg gewesen waren, wurde die Natur immer noch hier. Ohne die Umwelt werden wir nicht leben. Deshalb ist mein Hauptfach Politik- und Umweltwissenschaft.

Weaving the Streets & People’s History Archive

What is our “people’s history archive of street culture” going to look like?

Street culture is a ubiquitous form of expression that resists easy definition. Our people’s history archive of street culture will document the creative and complex ways in which ordinary people make use of public space. For our project, city-based street culture includes but is not limited to public performances, graffiti, painted murals, neighborhood gardens, parks, urban reclamation projects, political demonstrations, and any other public gatherings. Other suburban and/or rural “ground up” initiatives, such as farm-to-fork community-supported agriculture (CSA) projects, could also be represented in our people’s history archive. The challenge will be to find physical, hand-held materials that document these sorts of activities that we can scan and add to the digital archive. Many forms of street culture are ephemeral in nature, which creates a methodological challenge to collecting materials and reminds us why it is important to gather them before they are lost, forgotten, or destroyed.

Like archives elsewhere, our people’s history archive of street culture will represent and/or reveal the interests and values of societies, cultures, and/or subcultures from which the materials in the archive are drawn. However, materials in an archive of street culture will also undoubtedly reflect values that include commitments to civil rights, social justice, equity, and fairness for the greater good of all members of a population. A people’s history archive will put an emphasis on the benefits of shared or collaborative endeavors over actions and activities geared toward corporate, commercial, or self-interests.

Our people’s history archive of street culture will likely represent populist and democratic ideals. A populist, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is “a believer in the rights, wisdom, or virtues of the common people.” A democracy invites equal participation from all of its citizens and strives to make it possible for every individual to live up to his or her potential. Those who have fostered populist ideas in the United States include the historian and author Studs Terkel and the songwriter and musician Pete Seeger.


Our people’s history archive of street culture will likely have a certain folksy quality, too, in the style of folk traditions, meaning items in the archive would be home-made, low-tech, low brow, do-it-yourself, free, and publicly available. Items would be one-of-a-kind or created in small numbers.

Our people’s history archive could include announcements, flyers, leaflets, posters, or broadsides for events that bring people together, such as community dinners, town hall gatherings, music concerts, or union, school, or church meetings. Other forms of creative expression, such as zines, stickers, and silkscreened cloth patches sewn on clothing or knapsacks could also be included. Sheila Murray ’15 picked up this small card from Café Oteca, an owner-managed coffee shop in San José, Costa Rica, in the spring of 2014. From what she told me, one can buy a drink for someone else by writing a note and pinning it to the wall in a sort of “pay-it-forward” community connection project. It would be great fun to go in, read someone’s note over a café latte, and then buy a cup of java for the next person.


“Found” items could be handwritten notes or even something like this playing card that Raina Puels ’16 picked up in NYC last fall. I’m curious to hear how she will describe it for our Street Art Graphics digital archive.


Examples of Other Citizen-Based Archives Projects

The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has created a Citizen Archivist Dashboard that allows registered users the ability to tag images, edit and transcribe texts, and upload and share their own materials. The NARA mission is “to provide public access to Federal Government records in our custody and control. Public access to government records strengthens democracy by allowing Americans to claim their rights of citizenship, hold their government accountable, and understand their history so they can participate more effectively in their government.”

The Triangle Open Archive offers several features and functionalities in keeping with our people’s archive of street culture project. The Triangle Fire Open Archive explores “the personal, political and historical legacy of the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire [in New York City] through community-contributed objects … that critically connect to issues of immigrant, women’s and labor rights.” Items are categorized by “People,” “Politics & Activism,” “Cultural Response,” and “Memorial.”

Europeana uses Historypin (“a global community collaborating around history”) for a project called Europeana 1989 that allows contributors to add photos, videos, audio files, and written stories to a collection of materials related to the fall of the Iron Curtain in Central and Eastern Europe. According to the Web site, “The project aims to create a vivid and complete picture of the revolutionary events in Europe with stories, photos, videos and sound recordings from every country affected. Personal stories, memories and experiences can help others to better understand what it was like and to see events from a different perspective. By collecting personal memorabilia and stories from this period, and combining it with institutional collections, we aim to create an engaging user experience.”

The People’s Archive of Sinking and Melting, based out of Dublin, Ireland, and San Francisco, California, is “a collection of materials contributed by people living in places that may disappear because of the combined physical, political, and economic impacts of climate change, primarily sea level rise, erosion, desertification, and glacial melting. Together, through common but differentiated collections, they form an archive of what will have been.”

The People’s Archive of Rural India documents “the everyday lives of everyday people.” The Web site is under construction, but categories include “things we do,” “things we make,” “farming and its crisis,” “faces,” “women,” “the rural in the urban,” “adivasis” (“first dwellers”), and many other topics.

Initially based out of the United Kingdom, a Peoples Archive grew out of a Science Archive project that originally video recorded the autobiographical life stories of famous scientists. This Peoples Archive expanded to include stories about the lives of famous authors, filmmakers, artists, and others. In 2008, it evolved into the Web of Stories, which today features thousands of stories from the international public on a wide range of channels such as “Love,” “War,” “Ageing and Death,” and “Inspiration and Innovation.”

The Paisley People’s Archive from Paisley, Scotland, is “a community-based project which focuses on the city’s social history of industrial heritage and related leisure activities. Consisting of digitally recorded oral history interviews, archival research, and old and new images, the Archive recreates Paisley’s history as remembered by its people.”

New course proposal for “Street Art Graphics” digital archive project

The pegatinas writing assignment with Marina Llorente and the Weaving the Streets & People’s Archive project with John Collins have both gone so well that I’ve decided to develop a new course proposal that would offer students the opportunity to conduct research and write about street art stickers and ephemera related to street culture for the Street Art Graphics digital archive. One of the biggest game changers for the archive is that I’m trying to convince SLU to convert from ContentDM to Artstor Shared Shelf, a Web-based cataloguing and image management software system that would provide several improvements. In addition to higher quality image presentation, the Artstor cataloguing tool includes a vocabulary warehouse so that artists’ names, geographic locations, and subject headings are automatically linked to authority records from the Library of Congress and the Getty Art & Architecture Thesaurus, among others. Metadata schemas are highly customizable, as are different user roles for collaborative cataloguing. Artstor will also store and back up all of our source images for long-term, off-site preservation. Most important, however, is the fact that Shared Shelf allows users to publish content directly to the Web through Shared Shelf Commons, the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), Omeka, Google, and other outlets. This last feature is what is most exciting. Despite how well Artstor presents images, I have avoided using it up until now because content is available only to paid subscribers (not very democratic of them, is it?). With Shared Shelf Commons, however, we could share our digital content freely with everyone in keeping with St. Lawrence University’s open access policies.

Here is what I have so far for the course overview and the initial list of required readings. Now I have to put together the assignments and the weekly schedule and submit this puppy to the art & art history department for their approval. Fingers crossed in advanced!

Street Art Graphics & People’s Archive Course Overview

This course offers students the opportunity to conduct research and write about street art graphics for an online digital archive available on St. Lawrence University’s Richard F. Brush Art Gallery Web site ( and on Artstor Shared Shelf Commons, a free, open access international digital image library of arts and sciences ( The Street Art Graphics & People’s Archive is based primarily on contemporary street art stickers and ephemera related to street culture from countries around the world, including Canada, Egypt, England, France, Germany, Indonesia, Russia, Spain, Ukraine, and the United States. Topics addressed include animal rights, consumer capitalism, environment, football, gender and sexuality, labor, police brutality, political protests, racism, social justice, and surveillance, among others. The course enables students to use real world examples of street art culture to understand current global issues and to be part of writing history through citizen journalism. Incorporating critical thinking and visual/media literacies, students will learn how to annotate images, hone their writing skills, and contribute their work to a vibrant and unique digital image archive. A digital geo-mapping project at the end of the semester will further contextualize items in the archive.


Selected Readings

Burkeman, DB, and Monica LoCascio. Stickers: From Punk Rock to Contemporary Art. New York: Rizzoli, 2010. Print.

Chaffee, Lyman G., Political Protest and Street Art: Popular Tools for Democratization in Hispanic Countries. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1993. Print. Chapter 1: pages 3-22; Chapter 3: pages 37-52.

Clough, Alice. Combating Urban Disengagement? Stickers as a Form of Street Art. London: University College London Department of Anthropology Working Paper 09/2011. Print.

Ferrante, Julia. ‘Street art’ provides context for understanding cities. 20 July 2011. Web.

Gregory, Lua, and Shana Higgins, eds. Information Literacy and Social Justice: Radical Professional Praxis. Sacramento, CA: Library Juice Press, 2013. Print.

Irvine, Martin. “The Work on the Street: Street Art and Visual Culture” in The Handbook of Visual Culture. London/New York: Berg. 2012. Print.

Leckie, Gloria J, Lisa M. Given, and John E. Buschman, eds. Critical Theory for Library and Information Science. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited. 2010. Print. (Chapters include “Transformative Library Pedagogy and Community-Based Libraries: A Freiran Perspective” by Martina Riedler and Mustafas Yunus Eryaman and “The Public Library as a Space for Democratic Empowerment: Henry Giroux, Radical Democracy, and Border Pedagogy” by Mustafas Yunus Eryaman.)

Morrone, Melissa, ed. Informed Agitation: Library and Information Skills in Social Justice Movements and Beyond. Sacramento: Library Juice Press, 2014. Print. (Chapters include “Whatcha Doin’ After the Demo? The Importance of Archiving Political Posters” by Vince Teetart; “To Spread the Revolution: Anarchist Archives and Libraries” by Jessica Moran; “Building an Archive from Below: Reflections from Interference Archive” by Molly Fair; “Librarian Is My Occupation: A History of the People’s Library of Occupy Wall Street” by Jaime Taylor and Zachary Loeb; and “Why Archive? and Other Important Questions Asked by Occupy Wall Street” by Sian Evans, Anna Perricci, and Amy Roberts.)

Pollock, Caitlin M. J., and Andrea Battleground. A Gallery for the Outlaw: Archiving the Art of the Iconoclast. Association of College and Research Libraries. 2013. Print.

Walker, Jill. Distributed Narrative: Telling Stories Across Networks. Bergen: University of Norway Department of Humanistic Informatics. 2004. Print.

Wallace, Margot. Writing for Museums. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. 2014. Print.

Zinn, Howard. “Secrecy, Archives, and the Public Interest.” The Zinn Reader: Writings on Disobedience and Democracy. New York City, NY: Seven Stories Press. 2011. Print.

Pegatinas writing assignment – featured SLU student research – Jamie Abraham ‘15

The fall 2013 pegatinas final writing writing assignment for Dr. Marina Llorente’s ESP 439 seminar Literatura, cine y cultura en la España contemporànea went really well. Having the students first annotate the images made a big difference. Students were also given the chance to submit preliminary drafts of their work to get feedback on their writing. The students who annotated images, conducted additional research, and revised their writing subsequently aced the assignment. During the upcoming week, I am going to post examples from several students to be able to show others this process of writing about stickers. Today’s featured student is Jamie Abraham ’15, and she gave permission to have her work included on Stickerkitty. She analyzed a group of stickers about environmental issues in Spain. Here are two.


spain_misc_historical_188 copy

  1. Text: Safe? — Nuclear? — No, Thank You!
  2. Image: Skull disguised as nuclear power plant
  3. Logo: Joves d’esquerra verda, an environmental organization that focuses on the betterment of Cataluña and a youth sub-organization of the political party Iniciativa per Catalunya Verds (Iniciativa por Cataluña Verdes).
  4. Link: Main website for Joves d’esquerra verda
  1. Texto: Segur? — Nuclears? — No, Gràcies!
  2. Imagen: Cráneo disfrazado como centrales eléctricas
  3. Logo: Joves d’esquerra verda, un grupo ecologista que enfoca en el ecosocialismo de Cataluña y es una sub-organización del partido político la Iniciativa por Cataluña Verdes.
  4. Enlace: Sitio de Joves d’esquerra verda


This sticker was created by Joves d’esquerra verda. They provide a link to the interactive and informative Web site, and the organization’s logo is also presented on the sticker. The text Segur? translates to Safe?. Coupled with the image of a skull underneath the nuclear power machine illustrates the message that nuclear energy is not safe for citizens and will propose real issues for humans and the environment. A fifth of Spain’s energy is nuclear via seven power plants, with the recent closure of one in Garoña. This sticker highlights the lack of information provided by nuclear companies to citizens regarding issues of environmental and human health. However, it demonstrates the effort of a politically associated group, and more importantly a youth organization, that shows the proactivity of the younger generations. This sticker presents the widely translated phrase in opposition to nuclear energy Nuclears? No, gràcies. This indicates the large movement of regions refusing nuclear energy. The situation above ground seems innocuous; simple structures and blue skies suggest nothing is wrong. Segur? questions this appearance and underground the truth is revealed; the bold text No, gràcies is placed close to the skull to draw the eyes of the reader to the dangerous repercussions of nuclear energy.


Esta pegatina fue creado por Joves d’Esquerra Verda. Provee el vinculo a su página web interactiva y informativa, y el logotipo de la organización se presentan en la pegatina. El texto Segur? se traduce en seguridad?. Junto con la imagen de un cráneo debajo de la máquina de energía nuclear ejemplifica el mensaje de que la energía nuclear no es segura para los ciudadanos, y propondrá problemas reales para los seres humanos y el medio ambiente. Un quinto de la energía de España es nuclear a través de siete centrales eléctricas, y un cierre reciente de uno en Garoña. Esta pegatina recalca la falta de información provee a los ciudadanos por las compañías nucleares sobre las cuestiones de la salud ambiental y humano. Sin embargo, demuestra el intento positivo de un grupo político, y más importante, un grupo juvenil, lo que muestra las acciones preventivas de los jóvenes. Esta pegatina ofrece la frase común del mundo en oposición de energía nuclear pero en catalán, Nuclears? No, gràcies. Esto indica el gran movimiento de las áreas que se niegan la energía nuclear. La situación sobre la tierra parece inocuo con el cielo azul y las maquinas simples. La pregunta Segur? duda esta escena y debajo la tierra se revela la verdad; el texto en negrita, No, gràcies se coloca cerca del cráneo para dibujar los ojos del lector a las repercusiones peligrosos de la energía nuclear.


2014_spain_043 copy

  1. Text: Nuclear? No, Thank You — No To The Centralized Temporary Storage — Close Garoña… And The Rest
  2. Image: Smiling sun symbol of antinuclear organizations worldwide, created in 1977
  3. Logo: Ecologists in action — Ecologistas en acción
  1. Texto: Nucleares? No, Gracias — No Al ATC (Almacén Temporal Centralizado) – Cierre De Garoña… Y De Todas Las Demás
  2. Imagen: Sol sonriente símbolo de organizaciones antinucleares mundiales, crea en 1977
  3. Logo: Ecologistas en acción


Simple, yet effective sticker illustrating the necessity to abolish nuclear energy usage and to close power plants. The text is bold and grabs the attention of the audience. It is not overly aggressive, but is firm in its request. “No to nuclear energy. No to the ATC” (Almacén temporal centralizado de España/Centralized Temporary Storage), which is a project to expand current nuclear waste facilities to accommodate high activity level waste from Spain, France, and the UK. Opposition highlights the lack of economic benefits, the risks of building facilities and transporting high-level waste, and the overall discomfort and apprehension from citizens. This sticker calls for the closure of Garoña, a nuclear plant in Burgos, Spain, and continues to request closure of the rest of Spain’s seven nuclear power plants. The smiling sun is the international symbol of anti-nuclear organizations and its presence suggests the inclusion of the rest of the world in rejecting nuclear energy. Finally, the logo for Ecologistas en Acción propagates their presence in fighting for environmental issues.


Simple, pero efectivo pegatina que ilustra la necesidad de abolir el uso de la energía nuclear y cerrar las centrales eléctricas. El texto en negro atrae la atención de la audiencia. No es demasiado agresivo, pero es firme en sus peticiones. “No a la energía nuclear. No a la ATC” (Almacén Temporal Centralizado de España), que es un proyecto de ampliación de las instalaciones de residuos nucleares actuales para dar cabida a los residuos de actividad alta procedentes de España, Francia y el Reino Unido. La oposición incluye la falta de beneficios económicos, los riesgos de la construcción de instalaciones y transporte de residuos de actividad alta, y el malestar general y la aprehensión de los ciudadanos. Esta pegatina pide el cierre de Garoña, una central nuclear en Burgos, España; continúa solicitud de cierre del resto de las centrales nucleares. El sol sonriente es el símbolo internacional de organizaciones antinucleares y su presencia sugiere la inclusión del resto del mundo al rechazar la energía nuclear. Por último, el logo de Ecologistas en Acción propaga su presencia en la lucha por las cuestiones ambientales.


From here, I will work with Arline Wolfe, the SLU arts metadata technician, to polish the writing and to add links and subject headings to each item in the Street Art Graphics digital archive. The biggest news ahead, however, is that I’m making a case at St. Lawrence to have the University sign up for Artstor’s Shared Shelf Commons, a free, international, open access digital image library of arts and sciences. Artstor is one of the best platforms I’ve come across in terms of publishing digital image collections, but I’ve avoided using it in the past because content is only available to paid subscribers (like colleges, universities, museums, etc.). However, with the Shared Shelf Commons, users can now post materials and make them available to everyone, everywhere. More to follow!

Pegatinas Writing Assignment Part One: Annotating Images for Digital Archive

For the upcoming assignment at St. Lawrence University to have Marina Llorente’s students analyze political stickers from Spain, I decided to split the project into two parts. Part One will ask students to annotate the images, and Part Two will ask students to use the annotations to write about what the stickers mean (i.e., what are the larger issues that the stickers point to?). I’m doing it this way now because the last time we offered the assignment, students did well contextualizing the stickers but sometimes forgot to describe all of the textual and visual elements of the stickers. Those descriptions are important in a digital archive because people access images through word searches. If descriptive words are missing, access is curtailed. Descriptions fields are so thorny! If you think about it, one needs to list everything in the sticker, but one also needs to provide historical and cultural background and draw attention to issues beyond the sticker itself. Below is what I prepared for Part One of the writing assignment using this sticker from the Izquierda Anticapitalista (Anti-capitalist Left).



For this assignment, you will be analyzing political street art stickers from Spain for a Street Art Graphics digital archive that is publicly available on the gallery’s Web site:

1. The first step is to annotate the images. This will help you with your analysis.

2. Open the image file in Preview and click on Tools/Annotate/Text.[1]

3. Choose a contrasting color and type large numbers onto all of the visual and textual elements in the image including each line of text, the images, logos, Web sites, and anything else. Number these elements in a way that makes logical sense. The most important elements should be listed first. Every element in the sticker is there for a reason, so it’s your job to figure them all out. After you number the elements, save and close the file. If you need to re-number anything, you’ll need to re-start with the raw image file again (once the numbered file is saved and closed, it locks the annotations in place). You’ll see below how #1A, #1B, #1C, and #1D all indicate text; #2 indicates a face; #3 indicates a logo; #4 indicates a Web site; and #5 indicates a QR code.



#1 text: Type all of the text that appears in the sticker in a way that makes logical sense. For cataloguing purposes, the first letter of each word is capitalized, and the remaining letters in each word should be small (not capitalized). Use a dash between different sections of the text so that it reads in a normal, common sense way. If the text appears in Spanish, translate it into English in the same fashion. Any and all Spanish text in the sticker should be in written in italics.

#2 image/color: Identify who or what is being represented in the image (people, objects, buildings, graphic design elements, color, composition, i.e., everything!) and include any other information that seems relevant or important. Be as specific as possible. For example, in my description below, see how I put “photo portrait” of Angela Merkel instead of “picture,” “drawing,” “illustration,” etc. “Portrait” here also implies head vs. her entire body in action. I also noted who Merkel is and how the type font affects our interpretation of the text. In terms of color, most stickers are either black on white or black and other colors on white.

#3 logo: Describe the logo’s shape, color, etc. and what the logo suggests. Does it play off any other existing logo (i.e., is it a form of “culture jamming”)? HINT: Take a close-up screen shot of the logo and drag the image file into Google Images and see what you find. It’s a handy way to see if and how the logo relates to anything else. Sometimes, it’s the only way to find out!

#4 Web site: Describe the purpose or function of the organization that created the sticker.

#5 QR code: Find the Web site where the QR code sends you. Is it something else besides the organization’s main Web site? What is the purpose of the Web site?


#1 text: Des Obedece – ¡Su Deuda No La Pagamos! – Vota Anticapitalistas –; Disobey – ¡We Are Not Paying Their Debt! – Vote Anticapitalists! –

#2 image/color: Photo portrait of German politician Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany (2005-present). Her face is covered by a large circle that hides most of her eyes, nose, and mouth. The use of a bold graphic type font suggests an urgent appeal for a response. Black and army green on white.

# 3 logo: Faceted star-shaped logo for Izquierda Anticapitalista or Anticapitalist Left.

#4 Web site: for Izquierda Anticapitalista or Anti-capitalist Left, a Spanish revolutionary, ecologist, feminist, and internationalist organization that fights against all kinds of exploitation, oppression, and domination over people and the environment. The full-color logo in red, purple, and green signifies the different ideas that the organization supports: socialists or communists (red), feminists (purple), and green movements (green).

#5 QR code: A QR code on the sticker points to the Web site, which encourages people to vote for an alternative anti-capitalist government during the Spanish general election on November 20, 2011. The Web site states, “El 20N desobedece” or “The 20N disobeys.

Part Two: Writing a 150- to 200-word analysis of the sticker, placing it in a social and historical context. More information to follow!

[1] Photoshop is also fine for annotating images.

Marina Llorente – Fall 2014 Spanish writing assignment

SLU professor Marina Llorente will be having her students analyze stickers from Spain again this semester for her course Español 439: Literatura, cine y cultura de masas en la España contemporánea. She gave this assignment in the fall of 2012 (see previous posts on Catalonia stickers from 1970s-80s and stickers from Madrid, summer 2012, Solicitud de pegatinas españolas / Request for Spanish stickers, and New stickers from Spain for digital archive and writing assignment), and the students enjoyed it quite a bit. I’ve spent the last couple of months making a concerted effort to expand my Spanish sticker collection for this project and now have over 500 examples from different parts of the country (Madrid, Barcelona, Asturias, Galicia, etc.) dating from the 1980s to present day.

To prepare for the assignment, Marina and I met last week to go through my recent acquisitions from several contributors: the Spanish poet Jorge Reichmann, SLU professor of Spanish Steven White, Oliver Baudach at Hatch Kingdom, and Gabriel Garcia Ruiz and other contacts in Spain. Marina and I put together seven sets of eight stickers each representing a variety of socio-political themes: the environment, political parties, gender, the Spanish Constitution, workers’ unions, student strikes, and the Catalonian separatist movement. Students will work in pairs to write short bilingual description fields for each sticker that will be added to the Street Art Graphics digital archive. It’s a lot tougher than it may sound to write these description fields. One needs to list all of the visual and textual elements (subjects, logos, colors, composition, graphic design, etc.) and outline what these elements represent or mean. Descriptions are limited to 150 to 200 words each in English and Spanish.

Here is one from 2012 written by Michael Hickey ’13:


Solidaridad Con La Resistencia Minera — Izquierda Anticapitalista (Solidarity With The Miner’s Resistance — Anti-Capitalist Left)

“In the spring of 2012, in response to the Spanish government’s severe austerity measures, Spanish miners from Asturias united to raise awareness and call for justice. With high unemployment, the miners became guerrilla freedom fighters looking to save their jobs and the mining industry. The protesters went on strike in late May and shut down the country’s coal supply to protest the government’s decision to reduce mine subsidies by 63 percent. is the Web site for Izquierda Anticapitalista, an organization that fights against ‘oppression, exploitation, and the domination of people and nature.’ The sticker depicts the profile of a man wearing a knitted watch cap and a bandana to conceal his identity. The sticker also contains a QR code, easily scanned with a smart phone application to spread the resistance movement.”

En la primavera del 2012, en respuesta a las severas medidas de austeridad del gobierno español, los mineros españoles de Asturias se unieron para concienciar y pedir justicia. Con un desempleo alto, los mineros se convirtieron en guerrilleros por la libertad intentando salvar sus trabajos y la industria minera. Los manifestantes fueron a la huelga a últimos de mayo y cortaron el suministro de carbón del país para protestar en contra de la decisión del gobierno de reducir el subsidio minero al 63 por ciento. es el portal de la red Izquierda Anticapitalista, una organización que lucha en contra de ‘la opresión, explotación y la dominación de la gente y la naturaleza.”’La pegatina presenta el perfil de un hombre que lleva un gorro de lana y un pañuelo para ocultar su identidad. La pegatina tiene también un código QR que puede escanearse fácilmente con la aplicación de un smartphone para diseminar este movimiento de resistencia.”

Here’s another one from the same student:


Lluís Companys I Jover — 1883-1940

“This tribute sticker presents a photograph of Lluís Companys i Jover over stripes of yellow and red, two colors synonymous with Catalonia and the region’s long struggle to become an independent state. Companys was actually born in 1882 and was the leader of the Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC) or Republican Left of Catalonia. Founded in 1931, the ERC remains a nationalist party that seeks independence from Spain. Companys served as President of the Generalitat of Catalonia between 1933 and 1940. After the Spanish Civil War, he went to France but was later captured by the Gestapo secret police and sent to a Spanish jail where he was tortured and later executed by a firing squad. Companys was one of the most influential martyrs of the Catalonian separatist movement, and his death has inspired thousands of nationalists who seek independence.”

“Esta pegatina homenaje presenta una fotografía de Lluís Companys i Jover sobre rayas amarillas y rojas, los colores de la bandera catalana que remiten a la larga lucha de la región por llegar a ser un estado independiente. Companys nació en 1882 y fue el líder de Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC) o la Izquierda Republicana de Cataluña. Fundada en 1931, la ERC sigue siendo un partido nacionalista que busca la independencia de España. Companys fue presidente de la Generalitat de Cataluña entre 1933 y 1940. Después de la Guerra Civil, se marchó a Francia pero capturado más tarde por la policía secreta de la Gestapo y enviado a una cárcel española donde fue torturado y más tarde ejecutado por un pelotón de fusilamiento. Companys fue uno de los mártires más influyentes del movimiento separatista catalán, y su muerte ha inspirado a miles de nacionalistas que buscan la independencia.”


As a side note, I needed to scan some additional stickers yesterday for the upcoming assignment. My associate at work, Carole Mathey, asked if it was a hassle to do all this scanning, but I described how it allows me to get to know the stickers a little better. Sometimes I see things in the digital image more readily than in print, and the scanning, cropping, and color correcting forces me to look very closely at each image. Carole called it “speed dating.” A muted, light grey version of Picasso’s Guernica is represented in the background of this sticker underneath bold red letters, for example, which I didn’t notice until I scanned the sticker.


ZINE! Sneak preview

My friend Amy Hauber at SLU is helping with the graphic design for the Re-Writing the Streets exhibition zine.  Here is what she did with the photograph from my previous post for the page spread on U.S. historical political stickers.  We hope to send this puppy to the printer in the upcoming week!

repub_SK copy


New sticker zine

I’m making a sticker zine for the Re-Writing the Streets traveling exhibition. I used to make a lot of zines with students when I taught bookbinding and a course on artists’ books. Back then we used old-fashioned copier machines, scissors, and glue sticks. Now I’m using Photoshop software and trying to learn a little InDesign, and it’s a lot more complicated. It will look good when it’s done, though. A friend of mine at school is helping with graphic design, too, thankfully. Of the over 800 stickers in the show, I’ve selected about 250 for a 28-page zine. I’ll probably have to narrow it down further, however, in order to make sure there’s enough room for text and photographs. Here is one of the pages I finished today listing some of the artists in the show. Back to scissors and glue sticks!

artists-page-001-cropped copy

Mysterious directional stickers in Berlin

Yesterday while biking around Prenzlauer Berg and heading toward Wedding, I came across another rash of mysterious directional stickers on sign poles along Eberswalderstraße.


This was after finding directional stickers last spring further south along Stresemannstraße and turning onto Zimmerstraße. The stickers are typically orange (or faded orange) with an arrow or arrows pointing straight ahead or turning left or right.



A couple of times, there would be a blue triangle nearby pointing in the same direction, as if the streets are telling us something.


I also found two orange arrows last year by Marianneplatz on Bethaniendamm. On all three occasions, I photographed the directional stickers using my Canon SX 280 HS camera with built-in GPS unit, so you can see pictures and their locations on this Flickr map.

Screen Shot 2014-05-07 at 12.12.37 PM

This morning, I looked at the photos I took yesterday. I didn’t see it at the time, but that blue triangle appears again on a few sign poles, too.


Weird! Three separate locations in the city, but what’s in common?




Flickr Photos

December 2022