Students craft protest banners


Aram Han Sifuentes explains to students and staff attending the Wednesday protest banner workshop how to apply letters and designs to the protest banner.

By Michael Urbanec

DeKALB — The Pick Museum of Anthropology and the Center for the Study of Women, Gender and Sexuality held a workshop Wednesday that allowed participants to express their opinions and creativity through protest banner creation.

The workshop was led by Aram Han Sifuentes, a textile artist based out of Chicago. Han Sifuentes is a Korean immigrant who moved to Modesto, California in 1992 at the age of 6. Protest banner workshops are her way of providing a platform for people to speak out, according to her website.

“Banners are a way for me to resist what is happening in the United States and in the world,” Han Sifuentes said. “It is a way to put my voice out there and not stay silent.”

Han Sifuentes said the banners are taken from protest to protest as a way of carrying their history from its maker to its future users.

She also said the workshop is a good way for students who would not normally make their own art to express themselves, and it gives them a good chance to meet other artists.

The banners are made by pressing felt letters cut out using stencils onto cloth sheets. They are then ironed onto the cloth so the letters stick.

Before beginning the workshop, Sifuentes said it is important to keep slogans precise, though funny slogans can still have a lasting impact.

“Our best banners are often our silliest,” Han Sifuentes said.

A banner Han Sifuentes worked on at the workshop read “No hope without dope,” and one hanging on the wall by the Pick Museum of Anthropology read “Support your sisters, not just your cis-ters.”

Students making their own banners will have a choice to either keep or donate them to the Protest Banner Lending Library, which is located at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St., and is run by Aram Han Sifuentes and collaborators Veronica Casado Hernandez, Ishita Dharap and Tabitha Anne Kunkes. They library has more than 160 banners, which are lent out for protests and then later returned.

Starting Nov. 27, the NIU Art Building will host an exhibit called Rise: Symbols of Protest. The exhibit will be put together by anthropology graduate student Rachelle Wilson-Loring, who said the exhibit will also feature two banners from the Protest Banner Lending Library.

“We are collecting banners, protest signs, buttons and clothing from anti-war movements, civil rights, environmental rights and women’s rights,” Wilson-Loring said. “We also look at how they’ve occurred at NIU specifically, as well as objects from modern protests.”