The current 2023 poster series, featured in the poster boxes outside the Salina Street post office. Photo courtesy of Jim Emmons, Syracuse Poster Project.

The Syracuse Poster Project is calling on poets to submit short-form poems about historical figures by Sept. 30 to inspire next year’s poster series. 

Next year will mark the 23rd straight year the organization has embarked on the project. Ten panels with poems will be unveiled in April 2024. They will be put on poster kiosks throughout Syracuse.

“It was always about creating these objects of civic pride as well as fostering community among poets and now hopefully illustrators,” said Scott Hermann, the Syracuse Poster Project’s sales and marketing officer. 

This year’s theme is “Famous Faces of Syracuse.” All poets will select a famous person from the list or create a fictional character from the future. The Onondaga Historical Association helped pick featured historical figures, including: 

  • Gustav Stickley
  • Elizabeth “Libba” Cotten
  • L. Frank Baum
  • Moses Walker
  • Jean Daughtery
  • Eric Carle
  • Karen DeCrow
  • William Henry
  • Alf Jacques
  • Henry Keck
  • Jermaine and Sarah Loguen
  • Adelaide Robineau
  • Dolph and Danny Schayes

Jim Emmons, the coordinator of the Syracuse Poster Project, helped create the project 23 years ago out of frustration with the condition of the city’s poster kiosks. 

The idea to place poetry and illustration into the panels came from the tradition of people writing short poems for the Syracuse New Times haiku contest, Emmons said. For a year Emmons collaborated with the Downtown Committee to kickstart the poster project.

Three years ago, the poster project began putting out open calls to Central New York artists after working with illustration students at Syracuse University. 

Lucie Wellner, an independent artist and designer, based in Central New York, has participated in the Syracuse Poster Project since 2019. Each year, she has submitted four posters of her watercolor paintings to the poster project competitions. Three of her designs were accepted. 

“The themes are good because they’re narrow enough that we can explore things that are meaningful to the people of Syrcause and people who will see the posters,” Wellner said. “The imagery and the poetry is tied to our surroundings and things that we all experience.”

The poster project is set to spread to a few more areas of the city. Poster panels will be placed on the Onondaga Creekwalk, in Franklin Square at the Central Library, Emmons said. Syracuse Poster Project also plans to make digital versions of the panels on traveling electronic displays, according to Emmons.   

All panels that were produced since the poster project’s inception are available for purchase online.

“Every poster we’ve ever done is available, it’s quite a backlog. It’s past 300 total posters,” Scott Hermann said. 

To learn more about artists’ submission, requirements, and further details, visit the official website. The top three selected contestants will receive cash prizes. First place winner will receive $500, second place $300, and $100 for third place. The selected artists and poets will be additionally rewarded with two poster prints and complimentary merchandise. 

read more of central current’s coverage

Suggested Reading