Moniker: Identity Lost and Found

Moniker: Identity Lost and Found exhibit
FREE opening will be held Saturday, June 23, 2018 from 6:00–9:00pm at the Massillon Museum.

Moniker: Identity Lost and Found Catalog 

The catalog is a hardcover, full-color, 144-page book, highlighting the Moniker exhibition in a limited print run. In an effort to make these catalogs affordable and accessible, and through our grant support, the retail price will be less than actual production cost. This publication will feature never-before-seen archival documents, photographs, artwork, and more. It will also provide a glimpse of contemporary artists, in their own voice. The first edition of catalogs have SOLD OUT!


Online Resources:

Follow Moniker on Instagram!

Online Gallery of Historic Massillon Railroad Images

To view photos of the railroad in Massillon from the Massillon Museum archives, click here.

Audio Descriptive Tour of the Moniker exhibit

To listen to our audio descriptive tour, click here.


About Moniker: Identity Lost & Found

Moniker: Identity Lost and Found, an unprecedented documentation of mark-making and monikers—grassroots movements which began in rail yards in the late 19th century and continue today—will open at the Massillon Museum June 23 and continue through 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. Over time, mark-making developed into a coded system of communication. Through repetition, recognition, and transcontinental exposure, symbols took on a deeper meaning. A drawing became a moniker: a name, an identity. 

The curatorial team—Andy Dreamingwolf, exhibition guest curator; Kurt Tors, artist liaison; and Massillon Museum Operations Officer Scot Phillips, project director—have 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 rail yards where the artform is created.

While moniker art is highly visible, it is historically among the most overlooked aspects of railroad heritage. The foundation of the exhibition is communicating to audiences the ways in which monikers evolved from the 19th century to present day as a means of distinguishing an individual from an otherwise homogenized and marginalized group of rail workers. The Massillon Museum is documenting this history so it will remain a part of railroad heritage for future generations.  

Moniker: Identity Lost and Found will present a blending of railroad history and artistic heritage by highlighting the work of contemporary moniker practitioners and writers from the past. All 35—including Colossus of Roads, Coaltrain, The Rambler, Smokin’ Joe, The Solo Artist, and Swampy—will be represented in the exhibition with their unique marks on 19''x19'' raw steel panels. That body of work has been built from the relationships developed between the Museum’s curatorial team and the active moniker practitioners, some of whom have been working in this field since the 1960s.         

Read the full exhibit news release here.                                                                                                                                                       

Upcoming Events:

Saturday, June 23, 6:00–9:00 pm • Exhibition Opening • Free
The first glimpse of an undocumented railroad tradition for the first time ever in a museum setting

Sunday, June 24, 2:00 pm • Who Is Bozo Texino? Film Screening at Lincoln Theatre • Free
Q&A with filmmaker Bill Daniel and artist buZ blurr
Presentation by Susan Phillips, Professor of Environmental Analysis, Pitzer College

Saturday, July 7, Noon–2:00 pm • Do the Mu! • “What’s in a Name?” with Gary Spangler • Free
Explore symbolism and creative ways to represent your name. Make a one-of-a-kind symbol for you!

Saturday, August 4, Noon–2:00 pm • Do the Mu! • “Paint by Train” with Megan Fitze • Free
Make a unique railroad print using unusual objects and a variety of art forms.

Friday, August 17, 6:00 pm • Emperor of the North Film Screening and Panel Discussion • Free
At Lincoln Theatre, 156 Lincoln Way East
Discussion Moderator: Wendy Zucal, Executive Director, Dennison Railroad Depot Museum
Panelists: Andy Dreamingwolf, Charlie Duckworth, Scot Phillips, Kurt Tors

Tuesday, August 28, 12:10–12:50 pm • Brown Bag Lunch • Steve Korpus,
Midwest Railway Preservation Society • Free

“Rail Car Restoration” at St. George Cultural Center • Bring or buy lunch

Tuesday, September 25, 12:10–12:50 pm • Brown Bag Lunch • Bruce Dzeda, Kent Historical Society • Free
“Kent and the Erie Railroad” at St. George Cultural Center • Bring or buy lunch

Thursday, October 4 • History Happy Hour • Dr. Will Cooley, Professor of History, Walsh University • Free
Doors open 5:30 pm • Presentation 6:00 pm • Beverages available for purchase
“I would rather be a free soul in jail than a coward in the streets: Eugene Debs and the Great War”

Saturday, October 20, 7:00–11:00 pm • Art after Dark • • Tickets $20
A costume party at MassMu to benefit the Massillon Museum and the Canton Museum of Art

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