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I haven’t sent an email blast out in exactly one year. How does that happen? Probably because of my growing reticence to sit in front of a computer screen if I don’t have to. All those hours typing applications and responding to emails, I'd rather be outside when I can! And yet I do what I gotta do - maybe these would be shorter if I sent them more often, eh?


Still, as always I appreciate those of you who subscribe to this list, long-timers and new signer-uppers! Writing these updates (and reading them from my friends) has become a valued way to hack through the furious modern onslaught of decontextualized smartphone garbage. Thanks for reading and keeping abreast of everything I'm up to!

Redacted Rubbings:

So this week, if you’re in Pittsburgh or nearby, I have a show opening up in a couple days on Friday, October 4 during the chaotic art mess of the Unblurred “first Friday” monthly events! This is the second time I’m showing my growing “redacted rubbings” project, in which I’m creating unique wax rubbings of state-sanctioned historical markers. This public, performative practice creates something akin to large-scale erasure poems. For some background, here’s my most current writing about that project. The first exhibit just happened in Providence, RI at the fantastic 159 Sutton space (thanks Jori!), and it was a crucial moment when I stepped back to see all this work spaced out on the walls. I'm excited to bring the project back home to Pittsburgh. If loud openings aren't you're thing, we're keeping the space open every Saturday and I'm doing a public discussion on Thurs.Oct.17! More info here.


As this project grows I’m dialing in how it gets shown, and developing a solid system for traveling the work. Do you know of, or are you involved in, a gallery space that would be interested in showing this work somewhere in the US, either as a solo installation or part of a group/collaborative exhibit? Let’s talk! Ideally I would like to work with historical markers in new cities where exhibit opportunities are happening, to expand the project and draw localized connections.

Also On the Walls:


Last winter my dad and I visited the nearly forgotten former site of Fort Butler, a former carceral station at the head of the Trail of Tears that’s just down the highway from where my folks live. I shot a roll of film on a disposable Fuji camera while we wandered around the small, relatively neglected memorial park. That roll of film was developed this spring by curator/designer Brett Yasko, and included (along with a whopping 86 other artists) in a intriguing exhibition at SPACE in downtown Pittsburgh. Like everyone else in the show, I didn’t see the photos until they were up on the wall. 


Meanwhile, Jon Engel curated some local Justseeds artists into an “eco-futurist” pop-up art exhibit over in Homestead, PA, which was really nice to be a part of. Go support art events in smaller towns, cities, and boroughs! We need each other’s ideas. 

Longtime friend Terri C Smith invited me up to Franklin Street Works in Stamford, Connecticut for a long, relaxed, in-depth public discussion about my practice and some of the work I was involved in as part of the Collective Action Archive: Redux exhibition, which Terri curated. The next day I was over at the Center for Contemporary Printmaking in Norwalk, CT doing a screenprinting demo as part of Trans Day of Visibility. I’m always down to travel for paid speaking arrangements big and small, and maybe even a demo or workshop… get in touch and let’s plan something!

Appalachian Movement Press:


I’m happy to report that I spent a good part of the summer being a researcher and author again, hermitting as much as possible in our attic amongst piles of notes, source materials, and references. Under contract with West Virginia University Press, I've just turned in my first draft of a history of the 1970s activist printshop Appalachian Movement Press at the beginning of September. I’ve expanded the story and focus, with a dozen new interviews and loads of new historical context, including an introduction by Josh MacPhee which situates AMP in the national movement press scene. This book builds quite a bit on the original article in the journal Signal (which you should absolutely grab a copy of and I'll send you one of the buttons above) including reprints of some rare pamphlets and even a children’s book about strip mining! I’m really happy with what I’ve created so far. This whole project became an investigation, a process for handling and assembling the various memories of all of the people involved in Appalachian Movement Press forty years ago. I’m grateful to them. 

TBD when this will be available, I’m hoping for summer 2020.

West Virginia Mine Wars Museum:


If you’re already on our museum’s mailing list, you know that we’re moving! Across the street, into a new building that the UMWA local just bought. It’s a bigger space, and now we have a few years’ experience to draw upon while we reimagine what we’re going to do. As Creative Director, I’m leading the design of all of our new exhibits, and it’s very damned exciting. So basically that’s life from January through May 2020. We’ll be opening to great fanfare next May during the Centennial of the Battle of Matewan. 


This spring, I designed a new temporary exhibit in our current space for our 2019 season. Boots on the Ground highlights the Army’s role in the Battle of Blair Mountain, and the synergistic relationship between the US military and American capitalism generally. I collaborated with historian Chuck Keeney on this exhibit, using artifacts from Doug Estepp and museum co-founder Kenny King. In many ways the design of Boots is a precursor for some ideas I have for our new space. Meanwhile I wrote a piece about working on the show, where I’m teasing out some of the deeper threads in working as an artist in a history museum. 


I’m interested in pursuing professional work doing exhibition design for progressive galleries and museums. If you know of any opportunities bubbling up, please get in touch!


And Also:

This winter I created the branding and graphic design for the Battle of Blair Mountain Centennial, 2021, which our museum is (of course) deeply involved in organizing! You'll be seeing these designs a lot more in the coming year, and you can find out more as the Centennial shapes upover at the official Blair 100 website.

You Probably Need One of These:

Have you seen these bumper stickers I designed and had printed? I used to have a bumper sticker with this slogan on my truck courtesy of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission - they don’t make them anymore, which was an egregious mistake on their part, so I made new ones. Honestly, how could I not? Grab one here.


And a New (Old) Printing Press:

Lastly, I refurbished this old 1950s Craftsmen Machine Co. Imperial platen press in the cold of last winter, which was a really welcome and contemplative exercise in methodical sanding, grinding, cleaning, and painting. I’ve been enjoying working with this machine, slowly refining the process and also learning how to carve blocks which will work with the machine’s capabilities and limitations: it’s a two-way road. Justseeds fam Sanya Hyland suggested that I name the press Jeannie, since the old paper on the platen bore that name from the last business card job that had been run on it decades before. New work that I've printed on this machine crops up in the Justseeds shop as soon as the ink dries, every other month or so. This take on the original "redneck bandana" (below) was an especially popular print with the Appalachian History set.

Usually I have a section down here for things I’ve read, or that I’m listening to, or watching… but I honestly can’t think of anything to recommend right now! I mean everything I was reading all spring/summer was about Appalachian history for the book I was writing, so if you’re looking for a recommendation there, shoot me a note. I’ve barely read for pleasure lately, at least not whole books that I finished, although I did very much enjoy Jenny Odell’s How To Do Nothing.
I spent a lot of time this year watching insects, precipitated by a surprise engagement with the local arrival of Brood VIII’s 17-year cicadas in early summer. That experience trailed on into a particular fascination with solitary bees, so much so that I’m considering making a series of very small block prints of some species. But meanwhile I built a couple of solitary bee “houses”, and they’re easy enough to make and put around the place if you’re the hospitable type.
End Note: I went up in a 1930s Waco biplane this summer with my partner Becca, which was easily one of the better decisions I’ve made since last I wrote to you. She wasn't flying it... yet.
You know how artists are always like “I need to work on updating my portfolio site..”? Yeah well me too. I’m about to overhaul the whole damn thing, as well as the 11-year-old website for the Howling Mob Society. Stay tuned, and meanwhile try not to judge my ailing, non-mobile-optimized web presence. I’m workin’ on it!

Anyway, I have to tell you where I live in order to send you these emails, so send chocolate:
Shaun Slifer
4078 Howley Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15224

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Shaun Slifer · 4078 Howley Street · Pittsburgh, PA 15224 · USA

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