Letterform Archive announces new exhibition celebrating design that empowers communities and fights oppression
In collaboration with Polymode, Letterform Archive is excited to announce Strikethrough: Typographic Messages of Protest, a new exhibition on view beginning July 23, 2022. This will be the second-ever exhibition presented by Letterform Archive in their new permanent space at 2325 Third Street, Floor 4R in the Dogpatch neighborhood of San Francisco.
Curated by Silas Munro of the design studio Polymode with Stephen Coles of Letterform Archive, the exhibition will feature more than 100 objects, including broadsheets, buttons, signs, t-shirts, posters, and ephemera spanning the 1800s to today. In sections exploring the many ways to voice dissent (VOTE!, RESIST!, LOVE!, TEACH!, and STRIKE!), the show will chart a typographic chant of resistance across more than a century of protest graphics.
Drawing from existing and newly acquired Letterform Archive collections, Munro and Coles initiated the project on the upswell of the Black Lives Matter protests with a goal to showcase typographic anger and agency as it is seen in the streets, on the printed page, and even on the bodies of demonstrators. The visual history of protest on display will range from nineteenth-century antislavery broadsides to the colorful affiches of the Paris 1968 uprising, from the revolutionary Black Panther newspaper to the public awareness posters of the AIDS crisis.
Strikethrough calls on us all to craft our own demands for social change. In the gallery, the work of trained professionals will sit alongside the raw creativity of activists and engaged citizens. Designers as protesters—and protesters as designers—rise from a wide range of racial, socioeconomic, and geographical backgrounds. Their letters are drawn, cut, painted, and printed. Messages are disseminated via the press, digital type, and augmented reality.
“We’re honored to bear witness to the generations of protest typography that speak to social issues and resonate with our current moment,” says guest curator Silas Munro. “We’re also very inspired by the collective and collaborative process that Letterform Archive welcomes and supports for typographers, designers, and expanded audiences.”
The hardcover exhibition catalog, Strikethrough: Typographic Messages of Protest, is authored by Silas Munro, with an introduction by Colette Gaiter. The catalog tells the story of graphic design in protest with 250 images, including high-resolution reproductions from Letterform Archive’s collection, archival imagery of the art in action, informative historical features, and a contribution on type by Stephen Coles. Designed by Silas Munro, Brian Johnson, Michelle Lamb, and Randa Hadi of Polymode, it features custom typefaces by Tré Seals of Vocal Type and Ben Kiel and Jesse Ragan of XYZ Type.
Beyond Letterform Archive’s walls, Strikethrough will also feature a mobile app experience named Mariah, designed by Heather Snyder Quinn and Adam DelMarcelle and developed by Flor Salatino, that challenges systems of power and makes the invisible visible. Using augmented reality, visitors can point their phone camera at historical sites of protest across the San Francisco Bay Area and learn how they relate to objects in the show.
To serve the Archive’s global community, Strikethrough: Typographic Messages of Protest will also be presented as a rich online exhibition designed by Chris Hamamoto, Jon Sueda, and Minkyoung Kim. Lectures, gallery tours, and other special events—both in-person and online—will accompany the exhibition throughout its run. See letterformarchive.org/ strikethrough for a preview. Complete details will be released on the Archive’s website and through its mailing list.
Admission: $10 for adults; $5 for students and seniors (65+); Archive members and children under 12 free. Advanced tickets will be available soon at letterformarchive.org/visit, and walk-ins are welcome.
Regular Exhibition Hours: Thu, 1–8pm; Fri–Sun, 11am–6pm; closed Mon–Wed.
Based in San Francisco, Letterform Archive is a nonprofit center for inspiration, education, and community. It preserves important artifacts in the history of letterforms and graphic design, and it strives to actively share them with the public. Since it opened to visitors in 2015, the collection has quintupled in size through the generosity of donors, and now includes over 85,000 items related to the letter arts. Lovers of letters will again have handson access to the collection when its new reading room opens in summer 2022. The Archive serves a global community through social media, publications, and the Online Archive, and offers a full-year postgraduate certificate program in type design as well as public workshops in calligraphy, lettering, and typography. Additionally, the Archive curates local and international exhibitions, organizes lectures, and hosts salons to showcase collections.
Learn more at letterformarchive.org.
As a bi-coastal, black led, LGBTQ+, and minority-owned studio, Polymode exists at the leading edges of contemporary graphic design. The studio specializes in books, visual design, curation, education, exhibitions, identities, interfaces, and writing. With core principles of visual expression, media adaptability, and typographic function, Polymode puts forward thought-provoking experiences and makes cool stuff for the cultural sphere, innovative businesses, and community-based organizations. Clients include the Art Institute of Chicago, Art Gallery of Ontario, the City of Los Angeles, Cooper Hewitt Design
Museum, Mark Bradford/Venice Biennale, MoMA, The New Museum, Phaidon Press, Pulitzer Arts Foundation, Orange County Museum of Art, and Studio Museum in Harlem. Learn more at polymode.studio.