Syracuse Poster Project

The Syracuse Poster Project, founded in 2001, brings together community poets and artists to create an annual series of illustrated poetry posters for the city's poster panels.

The process begins with a call for poetry. Over the summer, the project solicits haiku and other short-form poetry. Poets submit work about downtown, the city at large, or the nearby countryside. In certain years, we refresh this formula by including a special, reverse-process poster, or by inviting poets to write on a theme.

For special posters, we may commission an artist to create an illustration, then invite poets to complement the image with a poem.

Or we may establish establish a theme, inviting poets to write about a series of Syracuse "spirits"--the spirit of nature and wild places, for instance--or about a series of historic Central New York characters.

Each year, approximately 100 poets participate, each submitting up to three short poems by the September deadline.

We then randomly allocate several poems to each participating artist. Artists each select one poem to illustrate and submit their work in November. A panel of independent judges selects the 10 posters (and sometimes more) that best combine poem and illustration. After a period of refinement and polishing, we release the posters at unveiling celebration in April.

Petit Frere
Kerff Petit-Frere, illustrator, Syracuse University Class of 2011
Syracuse New Times annual "Syr-Haikus" edition

A Brief History of the Project

The Project arose to address a problem with city infrastructure. In the mid-1990's, the city received a multi-million dollar federal grant to renovate the downtown streetscape. The work included benches, lamp posts, and poster kiosks to serve as advertising venues for downtown merchants. Sadly, the kiosks failed to attract advertisers and fell into disuse.

To re-activate the kiosks, the Poster Project brought together two resources: a tradition of Syracusans writing haiku for the Syracuse New Times' annual "Syr-Haikus" contest, and an illustration program at Syracuse University.

In 2001, Professor Roger DeMuth agreed to have his students participate by selecting and illustrating haiku. From this beginning, we continued to collaborate with the senior illustration class on an annual basis. Then, in 2018, we broadened our reach by implementing an open call for Central New York artists. Each year approximately 40 artists commit to participating. After screening poems, we allot four of our favorites to each artist. Artists then select and illustrate their preferred poems.

In addition to providing civic art for the city's kiosks, the Project has gone on to cultivate other venues for public art. Its work also appears in the poster boxes outside the Salina Street post office, in permanent poster panel installations around the city, and in properties managed by the Syracuse Housing Authority.

The Team

Our Approach to Teamdom: We strengthen the quality, creativity, and appeal of our project through diverse participation. Our project best reflects the community when our participation is inclusive. We consciously engage people from diverse corners of the community by actively recruiting them as team members, participants, board members, and panelists. The Syracuse Poster Project is committed to providing civic art created by the community and for the community.

  • photo of Jim Emmons

    Jim Emmons

    Board chairman and co-founder of the Syracuse Poster Project

    Jim Emmons

    Jim conceived of the project in 2000, and teamed up with an illustration professor at Syracuse University, Roger DeMuth, to make it happen. He came to the field of civic art from a career in journalism. At the Project's ongoing leader, he oversees a modest but dedicated team of interns, volunteers, part-time workers, and board members. He’s pictured here selling poster prints at the annual Syracuse Arts and Crafts Festival. (Photo by Mindy Lee Tarry.) To learn more about Jim's co-founding of the project, listen to Aldea Gerard's 2020 interview with Jim for the Cafe Kubal Artist Series, her podcast on Spotify.

  • photo of Tom Carlin

    Tom Carlin

    Board member, treasurer.

    Tom Carlin

    Tom is an IT consultant in Syracuse. He has lived in central New York since 1972, and currently resides on the east side of the city. He is active in several organizations, including The Arthouse collective, The Minoa Library board, and the Meadowbrook Neighborhood Association. He spends his free time biking, enjoying the outdoors, frequenting local and national theater, and trying new restaurants.

  • photo of Amanda Henrie

    Amanda Henrie

    Board member, secretary.

    Amanda Henrie

    Amanda graduated from Syracuse University with a bachelor's degree in Architecture. She's now an architectural intern. When she was a student at Henninger High School, she got a jump on careers by sampling college classes in anthropology, medical science, and civil engineering. She ulitimately pursued architecture for its creativity and social benefit. She likes working with teams, and spending time with her young niece and nephew.

  • photo of Mary Ann Bowering

    Mary Ann Bowering

    Board member

    Mary Ann Bowering

    Mary Ann recently retired from a career in finance. She has an accounting degree from LeMoyne College and did accounting for local manufacturers. Midway through her career she also opened her own business, Microplay Video Games, which she operated for seven years before selling.

    Mary Ann has a passion for civil rights and has contributed to the betterment of the Syracuse community through past roles as a board member at Sarah’s Guest House and as a crisis call operator and finance assistant at Vera House Inc.

    She enjoys traveling, hiking, needle crafts and attending art festivals.

  • photo of CeCe Sutton

    CeCe Sutton

    Board member

    CeCe Sutton

    Born a "maker" in Orange County NY, CeCe moved with her parents to Lower Alabama when she was 12. After 50 years of life as a restaurant hostess, barber, graphic designer, event planner, retail manager, landscape designer and administrative assistant in the South, she moved back to New York in 2020 as part of the great Covid rethink-your-life shift.  She is a long-standing quilter and self-taught glass artist, working in kiln fused glass, mosaic, and stained glass. She believes that art is healing and provides an outlet for both the creator and the viewer, allowing us to come together by sharing our common experiences. In her spare time, she enjoys yoga, dancing, and traveling and camping in her motorhome with her sisters and her cat, Frankie.

  • photo of Faye Greene

    Faye Greene

    Board member

    Faye Greene

    A native of Syracuse, Faye graduated from SUNY Plattsburgh with a BS in Child and Family Studies. She has worked as a youth counselor for the New York State Division for Youth, administrative assistant for Jubilee Homes, and program manager for the Urban League of Onondaga County. She presently works for Access CNY, managing a program for adults with disabilities. She attends Abundant Life Church, and volunteers in the Wellspring Café and for the School of Discipleship. She is the current president of the Women of Pearls, a women’s health and empowerment group. Faye is a fan of gospel music and hosted the Sunday morning gospel show for FM88 for over 12 years as a volunteer. She has also volunteered for the United Way, The Dunbar Center, the reading program at Blodgett Elementary, The Girl Scouts and many other non-profit organizations.

  • photo of Richard Rodriguez

    Richard Rodriguez

    Board member

    Richard Rodriguez

    Richard is a two-time national award-winning author and poet, taking first place in 2019 and in 2023 at the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival (NVCAF). In 2019, for his poem “Homeless Masses.” In 2023, for “But for the Grace, a Humble Dedication.”

    Richard is a disabled veteran and a single parent of two daughters, Cassandra and Maria, and two sons, John and Jaimes. He graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts.

    He enjoys script writing, storytelling, and writing science fiction, as well as gourmet cooking, walking, attending poetry raves, and performing standup comedy.

  • photo of Diana Rogatch

    Diana Rogatch

    Board member

    Diana Rogatch

    Diana graduated from Syracuse University with her J.D. and M.B.A. and decided to stay in Syracuse post-graduation, now working downtown as an attorney at Bousquet Holstein. In her spare time Diana loves to let her creativity flow whether through writing poetry, dancing, or baking elaborate treats for her friends. She also enjoys hiking in the mountains or going for long walks on the beach.

  • photo of Scott Herrmann

    Scott Herrmann

    Board Member

    Scott Herrmann

    Scott Herrmann, board member (vice president) and sales and marketing officer. Scott is a Syracuse native and a graduate of Syracuse University, with a degree in art history. He has worked in banking and copy services. In addition to his work with us, he manages the Atrium Gallery for CNY Arts, the regional arts council. Scott is also an accomplished artist, working in black and white collage and life drawing. He is president of Open Figure Drawing, the long-standing life drawing group. His musical tastes are wide ranging, from heavy metal to John Coltrane.

  • photo of Naomi Masingale

    Naomi Masingale

    Outreach worker and graphic designer

    Naomi Masingale

    Naomi graduated from Pratt Institute in 2010 with a BFA in fine arts and communication design. She joined us as an intern in 2017, as she was completing a master's degree in arts administration at LeMoyne College. She then returned as a part-time worker, helping us with outreach and graphic design. Outside work, she loves to geek out around heavy metal bands and chemistry- and math-themed comics. Learn more about her by visiting her website.

  • photo of Mel Saffold, Brielle Dailey, Mike Vormwald

    Mel Saffold, Brielle Dailey, Mike Vormwald

    Web Development Team

    Mel Saffold, Brielle Dailey, Mike Vormwald

    Mike, as lead developer, is overseeing two webdevelopment interns, Mel and Brielle, who graduated from Hack Upstate's Careers in Code initiative, a coding program for people from low-income neighborhoods. Their work builds on several semesters of in-kind work by Adam Peruta, a web instructor at the Newhouse School of Public Communications, and his students, who created mock-ups of a re-designed site.

  • photo of Rosalyn Carroll

    Rosalyn Carroll

    Poetry Blog Manager

    Rosalyn Carroll

    Rosalyn M. Carroll manages our poetry blog. She's also one of our long-standing contributors of haiku, and since 2008, has had six haiku selected for illustration. An avid reader of poetry and literature, Rosalyn began writing haiku and short stories as a youngster.

    A theatre arts major in college, she has pursued many creative interests over the years, including quilting, crafting and photography. Volunteering for a variety of local, not-for-profit organizations, such as Syracuse Poster Project, Syracuse Stage and CNY Jazz Arts Foundation, has given her a unique opportunity to gain further experience in the arts and to work with others who share similar interests.

    Back when she was a full-time mom, Rosalyn instilled her love of the arts and humanities into her two children—and now, her two-year-old granddaughter whenever she can. She has also enjoyed sharing her crafting and writing skills as a literacy volunteer and as an instructor for a variety of student workshops.

    When the weather allows, you’ll find Rosalyn walking along the Erie Canal where she often finds inspiration for haiku. In her spare time, she enjoys playing piano and listening to music, reading historical fiction, learning to paint with acrylics and taking an occasional art class at The Art Store and the Everson Museum.

  • photo of Roger DeMuth

    Roger DeMuth

    Former professor in the illustration program at Syracuse University, and co-founder of the Syracuse Poster Project.

    Roger DeMuth

    Roger partnered with us from 2001 until his retirement in from teaching in 2015. He continues to work as an independent designer and illustrator from his home studio in Cazenovia. The work includes: children’s books, puzzles, maps, packaging, garden design, historic preservation, and panoramic photography. View it at www.demuthdesign.com

  • photo of John Thompson

    John Thompson

    Former professor in the illustration department at Syracuse University

    John Thompson

    After Roger's retirement, we worked with John, until his retirement in 2017. In 2006, he won the Hamilton King Award from the Society of Illustrators for the best illustration of the year. He has illustrated stamps for the U.S. Postal Service and documented missions of the Armed Services. He has taught in Florence and taken students to India for painting and drawing classes. Visit his website.

  • photo of Marty Blake

    Marty Blake

    Professor in the illustration department at Syracuse University.

    Marty Blake

    Marty succeeded Roger and John in teaching the senior illustration class. She is also an independent graphic designer and illustrator specializing in digital collage. For the digital work, she scans material from her extensive personal library of old books, magazines, ephmera and wall paper swatch books. Her gallery pieces incorporate cut paper, bits of lichen, and an occasional doll limb. Visit her website.

  • photo of Eric Rogers

    Eric Rogers

    Founding board member.

    Eric Rogers

    Retired from Chase Design in Skaneateles, Eric remains active in civic affairs, travel, and sport. He's a long-standing participant in the civic engagement group, FOCUS Greater Syracuse, and former president and ongoing member of SCORE, an advisory group for small businesses. Next time you see our posters at the airport, think of Eric--he initiated that display. Photo by Caitlyn Bom.

  • photo of Michael Moody

    Michael Moody

    Artist

    Michael Moody

    With Michael's death, early in 2016, Syracuse lost a long-standing member of its art scene. He joined us over the summer of 2013 to work on the South Salina Street Art Initiative. Michael worked with Rachel McMillian, one of two youth workers, to install posters in venues along the South Salina Street business corridor. You can still enjoy his work in the mural he created at Westcott and Beach streets.

  • photo of Peter Chan

    Peter Chan

    Information technology specialist

    Peter Chan

    Peter designed our original website from the ground up. A native of New York City, he graduated from Syracuse University, spent a decade or so working as a tech specialist in Syracuse, then moved to Maryland for more work in the tech sector. He enjoys cooking and aviation, and has built a flight simulator in his basement. He’s pictured at his favorite supermarket.

  • photo of John Paratore

    John Paratore

    Owner of Paratore Signs in Mattydale

    John Paratore

    John uses sophisticated digital printers to print our large-format posters—the ones for the downtown poster kiosks. Paratore Signs was established by John’s dad, back in the day of hand-painted signs. It continues as a family business, with help from John’s wife, Paige, their daughter, Valerie, and son-in-law, Ian.

  • photo of Chuck McFadden

    Chuck McFadden

    Former director of maintenance for the Downtown Committee of Syracuse

    Chuck McFadden

    For most of the Project's history, it was Chuck who led the maintenance crew that changes out the poster panels. The crew cleans, maintains, and keeps downtown attractive. They also run the long-standing downtown farmer’s market, Tuesdays during the summer, at Salina and Washington Streets.

  • photo of Tom Cunningham and Tina Parker

    Tom Cunningham and Tina Parker

    Co-founders of the former Eureka Crafts in Armory Square

    Tom Cunningham and Tina Parker

    Tom, Tina Parker and other Eureka-ites were among the pioneers of Armory Square. They opened Eureka just as the former warehouse district was reinventing itself. Eureka was an early supporter of the Poster Project, selling poster prints, and maintained a long tradition of selling and supporting authentic crafts.

Frequently Asked Questions