Shaun Slifer

Redacted Rubbings
colored wax rubbings of historical markers on Tyvek paper
begun 2018

In the summer of 2018, I started working on a series of wax relief rubbings of state-sanctioned historical markers that focus on isolating key pieces of language and omitting most everything else. In choosing markers to work with, I’m searching for wording that drives a particular, dominant historical narrative and intentionally excluding, or redacting, all the other text on the plaque as I perform the rubbing. By intentionally leaving white, negative space all over the large sheets of Tyvek paper I’m using, these critical sections of directive language stand out nakedly, akin to the practice of erasure poetry.

My process involves a roll of Tyvek paper, dark crayons I melted into palm-sized discs, a short ladder, and a high-vis fluorescent vest. As a public performance, I do the rubbings during daylight hours, wearing a simple costume that gives the basic suggestion of a municipal worker.

I wrote more about the project at the Justseeds blog.


in-process rubbing of Allegheny Arsenal marker, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania


Homestead Strike, Homestead, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania


Lewis and Clark Expedition, Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania


Fort Butler, Murphy, Cherokee County, North Carolina


early draft, Allegheny Arsenal, Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania


Braddock's Field, North Braddock, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania


Railroad Strike of 1877, Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania


Cherokee War, Murphy, Cherokee County, North Carolina


Braddock's Defeat, North Braddock, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania


in-process rubbing of Lewis and Clark Expedition marker, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania