Class #9 – 7/19 – John Fekner Lecture – Info & Resources

Class #9 – 7/19 – Info & Resources

Part 1 – ZINE work session. Each student will submit their ZINE page by Friday 7/20 at the end of our last class.

John Fekner was our Guest Artist & Speaker today!

In the 70s, John Fekner was ‘anonymously known’ for over three hundred environmental/conceptual works consisting of dates, words, and symbols spray painted throughout the five boroughs of New York. The “Warning Signs” project focused on pointing out hazardous conditions that dominated New York City and its environs in the 1970s. In the spring of 1977, Fekner created word-signs using hand cut cardboard stencils and spray paint. He began a relentless crusade concerned with social and environmental issues. Starting in the industrial streets of Queens and the East River bridges, and later on to the South Bronx in 1980, his messages were seen in areas that were desperately in need of construction, demolition or reconstruction. By labeling structures and emphasizing problems, the objective was to call attention to the accumulated squalor by urging city officials, agencies and local communities to be more responsible and take action. Read full Bio here

Follow John on Instagram –

The Original Space Invader – Don Leicht in front of his cut metal Space Invaders at Fashion Moda

Photo Credit: ©Peter Bellamy 1982 – via

Leave your comments and feedback about today’s presentation below!

14 Replies to “Class #9 – 7/19 – John Fekner Lecture – Info & Resources”

  1. Really enjoyed meeting John Fekner. His use of the graffiti genre obviously went counter to what was being produced at the same time due to his altruistic intentions.
    This is admirable and makes him stand above most of his peers.
    He really should write a book about his life because he was at the epicenter of the entire graffiti/street art movement.

    1. John was great!
      I agree, indeed a book/biography of his work during that incredible time in NYC history is so needed!
      I feel it will happen!

  2. I loved hearing Mr. Fekner’s stories! And how his work highlighted the decay of towns/buildings and how his work inspired changed. It was great to see an artist who put up something new rather than their tag all over the city but one who created stencils with quick eye catching phrases that stick with you. This was definitely one of my favorite class days, thank you Professor Seslow and Mr. Fekner!

    1. Thank you so much! Yes, I was always so interested in John’s work and motivation during a time where many other artists were putting up marquees of their names. John was teaching the public another lesson. He was teaching a class to the public about public space and how a visual literacy needs to be learned!

  3. Today’s speaker John Fekner really agreed with my inner voice, and purpose as an artist. I was impressed with his incorporation of his poetic nature to his stencil graffiti works. He uses the art of language to leave the viewer with not just an artistic image, but words tied to it to remember the experience. He has great purpose and uses his artistic talent as a means to achieve great changes in society. He is an individual who has crossed through barriers with what he feels to make a difference in his lifetime. Although, I am not attracted to the art form of graffiti/street art, I can definitely relate to the artistic voice and passion he holds. I am an experienced poet, have a poetry group which I participate in and love the use of language to convey meaning.
    I hope that I can use him as an example to influence me to continue on my passion, even with the continued obstacles that I face daily. I appreciate the efforts that were made to introduce the class to this artist, as it has helped me to understand and see the importance of graffiti historically.

  4. Having John Fekner come visit us was a great unique experience. He has been apart of so much, worked with so many other artists, and has a strong vision which he did an amazing job expressing to us. He is so inspiring and motivating. I love how he said that you need to make art that moves the head, gut, and heart. I love emotionally driven artwork, it connects the viewer with the artist. He also said that it is the essence of the experience. It connects with me because it isn’t always about the final outcome, sometimes it is about the process. You need to embrace it! I love that his artwork promoted change and it caused change. Apartments got renovated, cars got removed, and it helped bring attention to abandoned buildings. It really shows the power we have from doing what we feel is right.

    1. Yes indeed! John is one of the most inspiring and prolific artists I have met. I love his reminders about process and creating emotionally driven work as well. He is a great storyteller and shares his work and stories with great enthusiasm.

  5. To see John Fekner in person and listen to his story is way out of my expected, I really like his personality, no offense but it is like watching a documentary film about street art in front of your eyes, his perspective inspired me some of my paper, really strong opinions, and real attitude just like what graffiti is.
    Thank you, Mr. Fekner and Thank you professor Ryan!

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