The I-70 Sign Show is a public-art exhibition on mid-Missouri billboards. Launched in April 2014, the project embraces the interstate as a potent display opportunity for contemporary art and cultural commentary. It capitalizes on the state’s billboard surplus and engages the provocative, if frequently inadvertent, conversation of messages along the 250 miles between St. Louis and Kansas City. Artworks enter and critique this roadside dialogue, addressing themes such as religion, sex, politics, guns, race, labor, beauty, and consumption.
Each Sign Show artwork appears for two months on the main project billboard, located in rural Hatton (exit #144). When an artwork rotates off the main billboard, it moves for a second display period at a “satellite” location—different for each artwork—elsewhere along the interstate. Billboard vendor DDI Media assigns the satellite boards based on what’s available at the time, lending the project an element of chance and putting it in synch with the fluctuations of ad commerce.
The potential meaning of the art shifts with its location, depending on the landscape, architecture, population, and surrounding billboard messages.
The I-70 Sign Show has received financial support from the University of Missouri, specifically the Reynolds Journalism Institute, the Missouri School of Journalism, the Mizzou Advantage Media of the Future initiative, and the Office of the Provost, with additional support from DDI Media. The project is made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) in partnership with the Missouri Humanities Council and the Kinder Institute on Constitutional Democracy. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in Sign Show programming do not necessarily represent those of the NEH.
Project founder and curator:
Research assistants (Jan. 2013–May 2016):
Website construction and database design: