Context Posters

The one hundred and ninety-two Context Posters were derived from using a linguistic research database that allowed me to selectively search for words within popular texts published between the years 1890 and 1910. Within the database, I would look up a specific word, such as “Work”, and then ask the database to list for me the most used words written on either side of the word “Work” within those popular texts. From this list, I derived the three word concatenated poems that I hand-painted on each poster. Twelve words were searched: Power, Share, Work, Progress, Listen, Science, Labor, Sweat, Salt, Exchange, Health, and Waste.


Context Posters was part of a larger exhibitions called "Olivia Robinson: 1899-1902".  This exhibit was made up of four works: Alchemy & Meditations, Nabat: Looking Back, S.W.Eat’s Salted Products Wagon, and Context Posters.

This exhibition examines a period of time now known as the “Technological Revolution.” Also known as the “Second Industrial Revolution,” this time period brought forth the internal combustion engine, new materials and substances (including alloys and chemicals), new communication technologies such as the telegraph and radio, and major advances in the use of electricity. The socioeconomic effects of these innovations would result in a radical shifting of social power structures that had been in place for centuries.

The work presented here spans a variety of media – painting, sculpture, photography, video, and electronic textiles. In the windows of the Stamp Gallery a series of 192 paintings deconstruct the language of the 19th century, grouping together words according to their most common coexistence in printed materials. A fully functional sales cart for peddling human sweat sits opposite a video of a woman demonstrating an unusual capacity for producing salt. A pew invites viewers to look upon a dramatic polyptych of thirteen electronic textile pieces. In all of these works, the time period of the Technological Revolution is used as a framework to explore issues of power, both scientific and social, and to reflect on how those issues continue to exist and evolve today.