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Syracuse University Libraries

Learning Commons Exhibits

After Stonewall - October 2019

After Stonewall: The Continuing Struggle for Queer Liberation


The Stonewall Uprising were 6 nights of spontaneous and violent demonstrations. Starting in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969 in New York City’s Greenwich Village, it was a watershed moment in the modern gay rights movement, one with global repercussions.
 
New York State Liquor Authority had the power to revoke the license of establishments who “suffer or permit [their] premises to become disorderly.” The mere presence of gay people at a bar was considered “disorderly.” Sensing an opportunity, the Mafia opened establishments under the ruse of being members-only “bottle clubs” that did not require a liquor license. One of their more popular—and more profitable—bars was also one of the few places queer men and women could dance: The Stonewall Inn.
 
Despite Stonewall’s owners bribing police, Stonewall still faced monthly harassment. On June 28, 1969, during a routine raid, police were shocked at what Stonewall patrons decided to do: they fought back! The Stonewall Riots resulted in 21 arrests, mobilizing up to 600 LGBTQ+ people every night. Queens and Queers took to the streets to protest their unjust treatment.
 
Stonewall was not the first protest for gay rights, but it was certainly the most galvanizing. It made way for such radical movements as the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) and the Gay Activists Alliance (GAA).
 
But voices were left out of the narrative. Gay rights in the U.S. has historically been a movement built on the backs of queer and trans people of color, benefited only by their white, cisgender homonormative gay peers. The bodies on the front lines of LGBTQ+ rights’ marches, screaming at rallies, and scaling buildings (yeah, Sylvia Rivera did THAT) have been, largely, queer and trans women of color. They’ve also been the first to suffer violence against the LGBTQ+ communities. 
 
The images on display represent an array of queer and trans people (before and after Stonewall) whose voices are often left out of the official gay liberation movement narrative. As we celebrate LGBTQ+ History Month, it is imperative we include all the folks who have worked and are working to fight for queer liberation, a movement that continues its struggle toward acceptance of ALL queer and trans people.
 
On October 8, 2019, the Supreme Court of the United States will hear a case that will decide whether the federal employment law that bans discrimination based on sex protects trans people. The fight for queer liberation continues!

After Stonewall

Video Horror 3 - September 2019

Video Horror 3

Selections from Bird Library's media collection

Video Horror 3

PARAHUMAN - August 2019

PARAHUMAN

THE SECOND IN A THREE PART SERIES EXPLORING THE FRINGE IN PRINT

 

In that shadow world where the subjective becomes palatable, reside forces that remain beyond the grasp of science. Some claim to have the ability to snatch brainwaves that flow through space like rivers of thought, sense the deceased as they haunt our world, and leave the corporeal body to visit ethereal realms. That objective proof of such phenomenon remains elusive – well after a hundred years of scrutiny – is both frustrating and telling.

This selection of books illustrates examples of bizarre human conditions. Mainstream fascination with extraordinary powers of the mind and body were at their peak from the late 60s through the 70s; by the 80s public fascination with the fringe had shifted to aliens and abductions. Publications by major publishers trailed off significantly. The subject would then exploited by smaller independent New Age publications, with their focus centering more on the mystical elements of the phenomenon, rather than critical analysis.

PARAHUMAN

Mid-Century 5.0 - May 2019

Mid-Century 5.0: an anniversary celebration of the most popular records from past exhibits

A selection of unusual vinyl records from a private collection culled from thrift stores and forgotten places. This year marks the fifth anniversary of the exhibit and consists of a handpicked selection of some of the best (of the worst) from previous years. 

Mid-Century 5.0 Poster

Mid-Century 5.0 Display

Archie Collectibles - April 2019

Archie Collectibles, selections from Nancy Silberkleit’s private Archive Comics memorabilia collection

A variety of Archie comic memorabilia from the private collection of the Co-CEO of Archie Comics, Nancy Silberkleit. This exhibit overlaps with the nationally known “Cripping” the Comic Con, held April 13 in the Schine Student Center.  

Archie Collectibles Display

Archie Collectibles

The Spice Girls Doll 1996-1999 - April 2019

April Fool's Popup: Spice Girls: The Spice Girls Doll 1996-1999​

A limited-run exhibit displaying a selection of vintage late 90s dolls by Galoob.

Spice Girls poster

Chasing Franketienne's Creativity - March 2019

Chasing Franketienne's Creativity: Production/Reception of a Work ​

An exhibition of manuscripts and typewriting, first editions, pictures, and posters by or on this important artist and writer.

Chasing Franketienne's Creativity poster 

Music Zine/Magazine - February 2019

Music Zine/Magazine: An Evolution of Music Fanzine into Indie Magazine​

A visual exploration of the relationship between fanzines and magazines produced during the early punk and New Wave area, with a focus on the US and UK (with some Canada thrown in for good measure).

Music Zine/Magazine

Music Zine/Magazine display

New York Plates - January 2019

Centennial, Quasquicentennial, Sesquicentennial, Semiseptcentennial, Dodransbicentennial:
Quintessential Historic New York State Commemorative Souvenir Transfer Plates Manufactured by Kettlesprings Kilns

Souvenirs of a very specific place and time, commemorative souvenir plates were commissioned by communities to reflect pride of place, typically depicting major milestones from minor places. Of all the companies that produced plates during the golden age of the souvenir, Kettlesprings Kilns - with their distinctive art style - has produced iconic examples of small-run historical dishware since 1950. This exhibit is a celebration of that company’s finest, with a regional focus on upstate New York.

New York Plates Poster

New York Plates display

Snow Domes - December 2018

Snow Domes: A Visual Retrospective Fourth Annual 

Mainstays of gift shops worldwide, the plastic snowdome is oft the object of choice when an inexpensive totem of a trip to distant lands is desired, or a last minute gift quickly purchased on the return leg of a journey to soothe the spirits of those left at home. Or perhaps found at the grocery or drug store and purchased on impulse to grace the window and commemorate a holiday, these fragile spheres (or hemispheres, squares, or alligator-shaped) of liquid warm the heart, and remind us all that life too will evaporate… so enjoy it while it’s here.

Say it wit Bricks - November 2018

 

SAY IT WITH BRICKS: REFLECTIONS AND REFRACTIONS ON ORWELL’S 1984, A DOUBLEPLUSGOOD OBJECTFUL SELECTION OF PULPFEED TAPEFEED DISCFEED WALLFEED RELATING TO THE FORWARDTHINK TEXT

The narrative of 1984 is woven into western culture like that of few other works of fiction. Ubiquitous to the point of cliché or resonating below the surface are concepts such as "doublethink" and the looming presence of Big Brother.

Doubleplusungood: Reflections and Refractions on Orwell’s ‘1984’, an Objectful Selection of Pulpfeed Tapefeed, Discfeed, Wallfeed” is an exhibit consisting of artifacts related to the novel and it’s various adations in other media.

 

Double Plus Ungood Poster

Double Plus Ungood Display

Return to Horror Video Island 2 - November 2018

Return to Horror Video Island 2: A Selection of Horrific Films from Bird Library’s Video Collection​

Return to Horror Video Island 2 Poster

Return to Horror Video Island 2 display

Latinx Hispanic Heritage Month - October 2018

Latinx Hispanic Heritage Month 

The music of the Caribbean combines chants, rhythms, and dance from the Caribbean, Central America, Colombia, and Venezuela. It arises from the common sensibility of its peoples upon whom three cultures converge: Hispanic, African, and Indigenous. These musical roots and traditions fused into bomba, plena, merengue, son, guaracha, rumba, cumbia, mambo, and eventually, in the maximum expression of that fusion, which is salsa. Highlighted within the display are some of the artists and figures that propelled salsa around the globe, as well as some related instruments also on loan from La Casita.

 

Latinx Poster

Latinx display

New York Plates - September 2018

Centennial, Quasquicentennial, Sesquicentennial, Semiseptcentennial, Dodransbicentennial:
Quintessential Historic New York State Commemorative Souvenir Transfer Plates Manufactured by Kettlesprings Kilns

Souvenirs of a very specific place and time, commemorative souvenir plates were commissioned by communities to reflect pride of place, typically depicting major milestones from minor places. Of all the companies that produced plates during the golden age of the souvenir, Kettlesprings Kilns - with their distinctive art style - has produced iconic examples of small-run historical dishware since 1950. This exhibit is a celebration of that company’s finest, with a regional focus on upstate New York.

Mid-Century in Stereo 2 - May 2018

Mid-Century in Stereo: Even More Random Vinyl Selections from the Fifties through the Seventies

Third year of unusual record covers, spanning three decades worth of material with subjects as varied as 18-wheel trucking, gorillas sitting on pianos, and a bevy of laughably objectified women of yesteryear.

 

Collage of mid-century album covers

 

 

Album covers in display case

 

Video on Vinyl - March 2018

Archaic Media Series:1

Video on Vinyl: The Videodisc

A Format that Almost Wasn’t… and Probably Shouldn’t Have Been

The race to bring feature films, educational and instructional videos, and repackaged television offerings to consumers, freeing them from the whims of network and cable channel broadcasters, is a long and complicated one. Factors such as image quality, licensing, and price made the market competitive. A clear winner took years to ultimately dominate the market, culminating in the late 1970s with the Video Home System (VHS) cassette tape. Other formats vying for market dominance included Betamax (a rival magnetic tape cassette format) and the laserdisc. A forth –albeit minor – player in the this market was the short-lived RCA Capacitance Electronic Disc (CED), more commonly known as the videodisc.

At first glance the videodisc bears some visual similarities to the laserdisc, mostly in terms of size. But whereas the laserdisc is read optically with lasers akin to the smaller compact disc, the analog videodisc’s data is physically etched in grooves, read with a stylus in a similar fashion to the well-known vinyl record. These grooves are one-fifth the thickness of a standard audio vinyl record however, making them extremely delicate and prone to scratching. As a protective measure the disc is housed in a plastic caddy and oiled with a silicone lubricant to cut down on the friction between media and needle. By default, the disc remains in its plastic sheath (a blue color denotes a stereo recording, white mono), only released when aligned with a player, which then pulls in the disc into its internal workings.

From a collectable standpoint most videodiscs have minimal value at best, the rare exceptions being some cult and shlock titles. Since its difficult (and expensive) to track down a working disc player, the primary draw is the large, often garish, cover art. The plastic sleeves are typically adorned with wrap-around stickers typically 11 X 27” in size, so large that many examples are found with wrinkles and bubbles obtained during the application process.

First developed in the mid-sixties and considered a technical feat at that time, the SelectaVision branded technology was delayed for seventeen years, until finally hitting retail in 1981; by that time it was a limited, outdated anachronism. Ultimately the videodisc failed to draw significant interest from American consumers due to a variety of factors including average picture quality, limited distribution, short playing time compared to other media (a scant sixty minutes per side) inability for the consumer to record data, and high price tag ($40 to $75 per disc, adjusting for inflation) compared to other formats such as the VHS tape. The format was often used in period video rental stores, where most surviving examples hail from today.

Video on Vinyl Poster

Video on Vinyl Display

Aliens From Space - Winter 2017

Aliens from Space: Sixty-Five Years of the Extraterrestrial in Print

Beginning with the oft-cited Kenneth Arnold sighting of nine crescent-shaped craft flying in formation near Mount Rainier in 1947, the American public has had a fascination with the concept of beings from beyond our Earth. Not surprising then that popular literature on the subject is extensive.

The period of the late sixties to the mid-eighties was the heyday of paranormal publications. Along with other fringe topics such as ESP, cryptids, and lost continents, books on unidentified flying objects (or UFOs) were brisk sellers. Most texts had a sensationalist bent, repeating and exaggerating vague sightings and stories with little or no citation. Endlessly reproduced photographs of the period were notoriously unclear, consisting of diffuse blobs of light, vague shadows, and metal objects of dubious origin firing the imagination more than bringing actual enlightenment.

Earliest reports of the modern concept of unknown/bizarre structural craft and their occupants varied wildly. During the Contactee movement of the 1950s many aliens were reported as human in appearance with light skin and blonde hair, their goal to communicate and pass on knowledge as benevolent space brothers. As the decades passed beings known as ‘Greys’ (humanoid creatures with large heads, enormous eyes, slits for mouths, and pallid skin) became the norm, their motives often sinister in nature, involving abduction, experimentation, and violation of the body. Taken at face value, the deluge of visitors seems a vast and improbable menagerie; from an anthropological perspective, these beings and their enigmatic craft a possible mirror of society’s fears and hopes.

This exhibit is but a small representation of a flood of books published concerned with the unidentified objects, their occupants, and contact with extraterrestrials through methods such as abduction or thought transference.

Aliens From Space poster

Aliens From Space exhibit case

Endangered Alphabets - Fall 2017

Endangered Alphabets:  An Art and Writing Project

by Tim Brookes

 

The world has more than 6,000 languages, but, thanks to the forces of globalization, half will probably be extinct by the end of this century.  The loss of cultural diversity can be demonstrated in dramatic in terms by considering the alphabets — the organized symbols — in which endangered languages have traditionally been written.

Writing has become dominated by a small number of powerful cultures, and today fewer than 100 alphabets are in common use around the world. For example, the Latin alphabet, the “ABC” of the West, transformed from alphabet of a military empire to alphabet of economic empires (and now predominant alphabet of the Internet). Most of the writing done around the globe today employs as few as five major alphabets: Latin, Arabic, Cyrillic, Chinese, and Japanese.

At least a third of the world’s other alphabets are disappearing — no longer taught in schools and no longer used for government or commerce, written and read by only a few elders, restricted to monasteries, barely surviving in magic spells or secret love letters.

The Endangered Alphabets Project is the first-ever attempt to focus on and illustrate this issue, primarily through art, the vehicle being beautiful, distinctive, imperiled scripts carved and painted onto boards of Vermont curly maple.  In each case, the message conveyed by the script is Article One of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, drafted in 1948 at the foundation of the United Nations: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

The Endangered Alphabets Project looks at the fascinating interplay between function and grace that takes place when we invent symbols for the sounds we speak, and when we put those symbols on paper or some other surface.  Going further, the Project raise questions about the act of writing itself: about how it reflects not only the society but also the environment in which it develops; how it is affected by changes in technology; how it combines meaning with aesthetics; and how it is being affected by rapid changes in global communication.

Endangered Alphabets Poster

Joystick! - Fall 2017

Joystick!

A comparative anatomy of removable user interface tools designed for use with dedicated gaming devices over the last half century.

Joystick! Poster

Joystick! Display

Snow Domes - Winter 2016

Snow Domes: A Visual Retrospective Second Annual 

Mainstays of gift shops worldwide, the plastic snowdome is oft the object of choice when an inexpensive totem of a trip to distant lands is desired, or a last minute gift quickly purchased on the return leg of a journey to soothe the spirits of those left at home. Or perhaps found at the grocery or drug store and purchased on impulse to grace the window and commemorate a holiday, these fragile spheres (or hemispheres, squares, or alligator-shaped) of liquid warm the heart, and remind us all that life too will evaporate… so enjoy it while it’s here.

Reno Nevada Snow Dome

Snow globes in exhibit case

Abhorrence - Fall 2016

Abhorrence: A selection of Horrific films from Bird Library’s Video Collection 

Titles were selected and arranged by Stephen Singer, who also created the accompanying and rather scary poster. These and other titles are available for loan. Search our collection via Summon on the libraries' home page.

Abhorrence poster

Campaigns and Collectibles - Fall 2016

Campaigns and Collectibles

Includes a number of memorabilia from previous (and current!) U.S. presidential campaigns.

Collage of campaign collectibles exhibits

Collage of campaign memorabilia

A Whole Lotta Pez - Summer 2016

Starting today and for the rest of the summer, please enjoy the new LC display, A Whole Lotta Pez. Thank you to Stephen Singer for assembling this fun, colorful, and interesting arrangement from his own collection, and for providing the Pez information below.

Pez are compress-molded candies encased in unique dispense containers. The name Pez is derived for the German word for peppermint, “pfefferminz.” The candy was developed in Austria in 1927 for an adult market, as an accompaniment or alternative to smoking. The dispenser “heads” were added in 1952 when they were introduced to the US market. Over fifteen hundred designs have been released since.

Pez dispensers are highly collectable and conventions are held worldwide. Some of the more unusual Pez include a psychedelic eye embedded in a severed hand, a dispenser in the shape of a gun (releasing candy when the muzzle was placed in the mouth), and a Pez of former President Richard Nixon. One of the most expensive Pez is the political donkey priced at $13,000 USD, one of which was owned by John F Kennedy. There is a museum of Pez in Burlingame, California and a movie based on the franchise is in the works

Pez exhibit poster

Pez exhibit

100 Years of Lacrosse at SU - Spring 2016

Six students from the MUS 500 Historic Interpretation class assembled a display of materials to illustrate the long history of lacrosse at SU. They used items lent from the personal collection of Roy Simmons, Jr., a former SU coach who led the teams to six NCAA Championships. The year 2016 marked 100 years of lacrosse at SU.

Indian Artifacts poster

Indian artifacts exhibit case

Mid-Century in Stereo: Random Vinyl Selections (1950-1970) - Spring 2016

Atari - Spring 2016

Atari 2600: Early Gaming as Object

In the early days of home gaming with systems such as the Atari 2600, both the games and the systems that conveyed them to the public were a wide-open landscape, filled with bold experiments, gimmicks, and evolutionary dead ends. This exhibit in Bird Library’s Learning Commons, is a sampling from the collection of Libraries’ staff member Stephen Singer. It shows early home gaming as a vibrant, evolving commercial construct and the seeds of a multi-billion dollar industry.

Early games were crude, as designers struggled with the very concept of what a “video game” was. Many artists tasked with creating packaging for games never saw the game they were designing for and were only provided with vague descriptions or themes to illustrate. As the genre developed, grandiose and overblown package graphics did their best to pitch often sub-standard products.

The Atari 2600 reflects the initial burst of creativity to hit the industry. Selected objects illustrate the range of products available and include examples of the oddballs, failures, and dead ends. Atari was not the first to offer cartridge-based software, but they refined and shaped its evolution. Derivatives of the hard plastic cartridge have remained a commercially-viable solution to this day, mainly surviving in the handheld market, although the industry has all but moved on to the virtual realm. Even though most old software can be easily accessed and played via emulators, the recent retro gaming boom has brought a new relevance to antiquated physical media.

Atari Poster

Atari Display

Snow Domes - Fall 2015

Snow Domes: A Visual Retrospective

Mainstays of gift shops worldwide, the plastic snowdome is oft the object of choice when an inexpensive totem of a trip to distant lands is desired, or a last minute gift quickly purchased on the return leg of a journey to soothe the spirits of those left at home. Or perhaps found at the grocery or drug store and purchased on impulse to grace the window and commemorate a holiday, these fragile spheres (or hemispheres, squares, or alligator-shaped) of liquid warm the heart, and remind us all that life too will evaporate… so enjoy it while it’s here.

2015 Snow domes exhibit poster

snow domes exhibit case