San Francisco mural aims to ‘stamp out’ corruption

Photo of Stamp Out Corruption mural
Drake Paul/Courtesy
The idea behind the 'Stamp Out 2020' mural is that people will purchase postage stamps and use them to cover the word 'corruption' that spans the wall’s length, according to John McNeil, founder of John McNeil Studio.

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An interactive mural erected by Berkeley creative team John McNeil Studio, or JMS, in partnership with San Francisco arts and culture space Proxy aims to support the United States Postal Service, or USPS.

In response to allegations that the presidential administration has been defunding the postal service, the “Stamp Out 2020” mural aspires to “stamp out corruption,” according to JMS’s website, by both fundraising for the USPS and providing a platform for people to express their solidarity.

“It is a service at the end of the day that needs to work,” said John McNeil, founder and CEO of JMS. “And if it has been undermined then it is just as much our right and responsibility as citizens to contribute to and make postal service viable as it is to vote.”

The idea behind the mural is that people will purchase postage stamps and use them to cover the word “corruption” that spans the wall’s length, McNeil said.

The mural is designed to make a multifaceted statement, targeting not only the alleged misconduct of the United States postmaster general, but many facets of the current administration, according to McNeil.

“It’s pointing to a way for people to be empowered to actually protest the nonsense that’s happening in our government,” McNeil said. “It’s not just stamp out one thing, it’s stamp out all the things we may have issues with: injustice, racism, corruption, nepotism, fascism.”

Adjacent to City Hall, Proxy’s “political” location has contributed to its role as a platform to voice important issues, according to Douglas Burnham, the founding partner of Envelope Architecture and Design, or Envelope A+D, which founded Proxy.

Envelope A+D purchased hundreds of dollars worth of stamps, half of which were placed on the “Stamp Out 2020” installation, according to Burnham. The other half are being saved for postelection use.

“The ‘Stamp Out’ installation is really poignant right now,” said Burnham. “Any way that we can support the postal service and the postal workers in getting out the ballots and returning them to the states and precincts is incredibly important.”

Although large crowds are discouraged due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the “Stamp Out 2020” mural has prompted many to visit the site and contribute stamps, according to a JMS press release.

In a time when so much is online, the physicality of the wall adds to its appeal, said Gerald Lewis, JMS co-executive creative director in an email.

“It had to be a real, physical thing, something that people could see and touch and contribute to,” Lewis said in the email. “People have been stopping and talking, putting up stamps, and generally have a good time. It’s about time we all felt good about something.”


Contact Olivia Moore at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @olivia_moore18 .