Strikethrough: typographic messages of protest

Letterform Archive’s second exhibition will celebrate design that empowers communities and fights oppression

The Letterform Archive‘s new exhibition, Strikethrough: Typographic Messages of Protest, opens July 23, 2022. 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.

Strikethrough: Typographic Messages of Protest. Hardcover, 9½ × 7½ inches, 280 pages, 250 images, five colors throughout.

The hardcover exhibition catalog, Strikethrough: Typographic Messages of Protest, is authored by 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 Coles. Designed by Munro with 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 our global community, Strikethrough will also be presented as a rich online exhibition designed by Chris Hamamoto, Jon Sueda, and Minkyoung Kim. The site will be available to all for a limited time and permanently accessible to Archive members.

Lectures, gallery tours, and other special events — both in-person and online — will accompany the exhibition throughout its run. Join our mailing list for more information, including ticket reservations and a schedule of events, including the opening reception on June 23.