Ghost Signs

Sleeping Giants: The Ephemera of Ghost Signs
New Encaustic Photographs by Melissa Rackham

I began to notice ghost signs, the faded adverts on the side of many brick buildings, on my travels more than ten years ago. They were like big sleeping giants, the remnants from another time peeking out from alleyways and hidden in the shadows among monolithic modern city structures. Since then, it has become a game of hide-and-seek as I travel; I find myself looking into the shadows and along the skylines of every city for glimpses of these beautiful relics.

As almost a rejection of modernity and metropolitan expansion, these signs cling to the brick and mortar as the world changs around them. Never meant to be a lasting monument to their time, many have survived relatively well up until now, if a bit timeworn.

The location of the signs in this body span across the country and into Canada. And, as a nod to the simultaneous state of preservation and continual decay, the photographs are mounted onto stained wood and sealed in encaustic (a mix of melted refined beeswax and Damar resin), both organic materials with a similar fate.

This collection has been exhibited at the Dahmen Barn in Colfax, WA; the photography gallery at Spokane Falls Community College; Hatch Gallery, Spokane, WA and was featured in a short film here at Melissa's Sleeping Giants.





















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