Formed in reaction to violent sexism, racism and homophobia in the punk music scene and in the culture at large, Riot Grrrl emerged in the early 1990s and inspired many people around the world to pursue socially and politically progressive careers as artists, activists, authors and educators. Emphasizing female and youth empowerment, collaborative organization, creative resistance and DIY ethics, it helped a new generation to become active feminists who created their own culture and communities to reflect their values and experiences. Starting this month, the Miller Gallery at Carnegie Mellon University presents Alien She, the first exhibition on the lasting impact on artists and cultural producers of the pioneering punk feminist movement. On Sept. 26th, the documentary Sign Painters will be screened as part of the show.
There was a time, as recently as the 1980s, when storefronts, murals, banners, barn signs, billboards, and even street signs were all hand-lettered with brush and paint. But, like many skilled trades, the sign industry has been overrun by the techno-fueled promise of quicker and cheaper. The resulting proliferation of computer-designed, die-cut vinyl lettering and inkjet printers has ushered a creeping sameness into our landscape. Fortunately, there is a growing trend to seek out traditional sign painters and a renaissance in the trade. Filmmakers Faythe Levine and Sam Macon document these dedicated practitioners, their time-honored methods, and their appreciation for quality and craftsmanship with Sign Painters. The film profiles sign painters young and old working in cities throughout the United States, from the new vanguard working solo to collaborative shops such as San Francisco’s New Bohemia Signs and New York’s Colossal Media’s Sky High Murals.
Presented by AIGA Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh Filmmakers, Sign Painters screens at 7:30 p.m. at the Harris Theater. Admission is $8, $7 for students, and $5 for CMU students/staff/faculty and AIGA Pittsburgh members.