Moniker: Identity Lost and Found, the Massillon Museum’s unprecedented documentation of mark-making and monikers—grassroots movements which began in rail yards in the late 19th century and continue today—will close on October 21, 2018.
During the late 1800s, blue-collar workers and travelers began drawing unique symbols and words on the sides of train cars in chalk, ephemeral marks that crossed the countryside, exposed to anyone who idly watched passing trains.
The curatorial team—Andy Dreamingwolf, exhibition guest curator; Kurt Tors, artist liaison; and Massillon Museum Operations Officer Scot Phillips, project director—created the exhibition to preserve the folklore of mark-making, while protecting its mystery. They believe that seeing the monikers and memorabilia in the quiet, clean atmosphere of a museum gallery will be the antithesis of the loud and dirty railyards where the artform is created.
Moniker: Identity Lost and Found blends railroad history and artistic heritage by highlighting the work of contemporary moniker practitioners and those most historically recognized for this tradition. The curatorial team traveled extensively throughout the United States, meeting face-to-face many legendary artists and recording oral histories to preserve their legacies. The team spent three years gathering images, information, artifacts, sounds, and the contemporary artwork for the exhibition and the catalog. The exhibition encompasses historic photographs, scrapbooks, railroad artifacts, news clippings, letters, and an audio component.
More than 600 guests attended the exhibition opening on June 23, traveling from 32 states, including Hawaii; three Canadian provinces; and Washington D.C. A steady stream of patrons has visited throughout the summer. The exhibition catalog sold out almost immediately.
The Moniker exhibition is funded, in part, by Ohio Humanities and the Tom E. Daley Foundation. The Massillon Museum receives operating support from the Ohio Arts Council and ArtsinStark.