"What's Your Sign?" — A symposium on retail architecture signage

Friday, September 8, 2017 - 7:00pm to Saturday, September 9, 2017 - 1:00pm
yellow and pink text: "What's Your Sign?" against an old photo of a city skyline

The Legacies for Iowa Collections-Sharing Project at the University of Iowa Museum of Art presents a symposium considering the history of retail architecture signage.

For as long as goods have been bought and sold, shopkeepers and traders have visually communicated their wares through signs. This breakfast symposium explores the evolution of signage from the shutter paintings of ancient Pompeii to the wooden trade signs hanging along Medieval English streets to the neon of twentieth-century American roadside signs. How have symbols of selling shifted over the centuries? How do retail signs reflect or reject broader visual cultures? What technological shifts have precipitated the most dramatic design departures? Papers may examine the iconography, typography, and materiality of retail signs as well as the cultural, financial, and geo-political forces that shaped storefront signs in the past. Papers may also contend with the future of retail singage in an increasingly digital and global economy. This public event will be livestreamed and occurs in conjunction with the City of Iowa City Downtown District’s CoSign project, which partners local artists and craftspeople with small business to create exciting and distinctive new signs.

Friday, September 8, 2017
7:00 p.m.: Keynote lecture by James Wines, founder of the New York City–based architecture and environmental arts studio SITE
Art Building West, room 240 (141 N. Riverside Drive, Iowa City)

Saturday, September 9, 2017
8:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.: Paper presentations
Visual Arts Building (107 River St., Iowa City)

Presented by the UIMA with support from the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies (an in-kind co-sponsorship)