The Power of Signs


During the 2011 Wisconsin Uprising many different people from all walks of life came to protest at the Capitol steps, signs in hand. This exhibit explores the creativity protesters exerted through their signs and the power that their creativity played in the movement. Many of the signs that came out of the protest were humorous, not only drawing large attention and making a serious situation seem easier to deal with, but also showing the unique group of people that rallied around the Capitol on those cold winter days. Another factor this exhibit explores is how signs occupied all parts of the Capitol, leaving no space empty. One could not walk around the Capitol, inside or out, without a protest sign in their vision. Overall, this exhibit shows the power a simple sign can play in protest movement and the unique messages spread through the Wisconsin Uprising through various signs. 


Jamey Hastings


Occupying All Spaces

This section explores how protesters occupied all spaces of the Capitol with signs, making sure that no matter where anybody looked a sign was in their vision. Because of the confined space of the inside of the Capitol, the use of signs all over was a strong contribution to the movement’s message.  

Humorous Signs

This section of the exhibit explores some of the humorous, creative signs that protesters came up with during the Wisconsin Uprising. Many of the signs referenced pop culture topics that were popular at the time, providing protesters a unique way to connect with people and other protesters around them. Humor is always a powerful rhetoric strategy in social movements and the Wisconsin Uprising had some of the most unique, humorous signs a protest has ever seen.  

Powerful Signs

This section is a collection of different, unique signs that were made during the Wisconsin Uprising. All signs are powerful in their own way, and the setting and protester contribute to making that sign a powerful message.