Under protection of the Hex of Obsolescence, Capitol Hill artist creates Problem Glyphs

(Image: @3liza via Twitter)

(Image: @3liza via Twitter)

Warning: This image is a curse. By glancing at this sigil you invited it into your prefrontal cortex where it will remain, working, until such time as its work is done.

Capitol Hill artist Eliza Gauger is creating psychic weaponry. And it is spreading beyond Pike/Pine’s utility poles.

“Some people, it makes them uncomfortable,” she tells CHS of her sigils and glyphs, curses and blessings. “I don’t like to make people uncomfortable unless they’re a threat to us.”

“It’s supposed to be threatening.”

Gauger created the Hex of Obsolescence to protect trans kids. She has focused her work on protecting what she calls dangerous ideas from “those who refuse to mind their own fucking business.” The hex leapt from her creations at problemglyphs.org where the artist has been responding to the pains, sorrows, and occasional surprising celebrations of anonymous followers of her work.

“I can’t trust people. This includes new people who want to be my friends, old friends, and lovers,” one person wrote to Gauger. Her response: Trust


She wants the works to be widely available for use and reuse. “Problem Glyphs has always had that public access nature,” she said. Each of the sigils is done in response to problems that people send to me online and there are over 200 of them now. People have put them on the walls of their houses, things to wear.. and gotten them as tattoos.”

Her creations, the anger, and the wit might remind you of another Capitol Hill artist who made his mark on the streets while working to create a larger message about tolerance, intolerance, and bashing back. Here is CHS’s conversation with artist John Criscitello from November 2014.

Gauger is now working to bring more of her sigils into the solid world with a Kickstarter project to print Problem Glyphs, a bound collection of 100 of her responses over the past three years of her project.

Gauger’s Hex of Obsolescence has provided some helpful — though unintentional — marketing.

“I didn’t want the hex to be an advertisement for my own work,” Gauger said. “It was more something I wanted to make my own work in service of the message.”

As a longtime denizen of Capitol Hill, Gauger has probably envisioned more than a few “problem glyphs” for the neighborhood. The loss of Bauhaus hit particularly hard. “We’ve lost a lot of local community places like that through rent hikes,” Gauger said. But there are also blessings. She can often be found working at Kaladi Brothers on E Pike which she says has “centralized the queer community” and grown into a new hangout comfortable to all.

She is also ready to leave an even larger mark on the neighborhood.

As the book project comes together, Gauger said she is looking for a larger canvas for some of her next art in the neighborhood. She’s on the hunt for a mural space to feature a new, huge sigil. “I want to do something bigger,” Gauger said.

You can learn more at problemglyphs.org.

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15 thoughts on “Under protection of the Hex of Obsolescence, Capitol Hill artist creates Problem Glyphs

  1. lol. OK whatever little girl. You play your game with your little drawings. The rest of us living in the real world will do the real work of actually getting laws changed for the better.

    • Well, at least Eliza’s *trying* to put some positive energy out there and contribute, in her way, to making changes with the intention of standing up for our community. And what do you offer in return “really”? Snarky bullshit. Yeah, we need more of *that* don’t we?

      Thank you Eliza. For your intention and your beautiful sigil work. It truly is the thought that counts. And the naysayers rolling their eyes (like “really” here) are just sad, bitter souls who can only wish they had your focus and vision. Keep up the good work! :)

    • This type of “quirkiness” and expression is what has made Capitol Hill unique and is part of the character that is being lost. We should encourage this type of creative thinking and not stifle it because you feel its not important or impactful.

    • Idiot.

      So do you think all musicians, authors, artists, etc. should quick playing their little games so everyone can live in your real world?

    • Critical thinking: what leads people like “really” to think that drawing a picture and sticking it up around town precludes the artist from taking any other political action whatsoever? We can only assume a lack of creativity in their own lives prevents them from understanding how creativity blends and augments all other forms of political action in the lives of artists, including direct action, civil disobedience, voting, and yes, “getting laws changed”. You will find this is historically the case in virtually every artist who makes political work or who applies their work politically, but it’s not my job to do your homework for you, alas. I’m sorry your life is so bereft, “really”. I hope someday you have more love and beauty in it.

    • Really, Eliza is a personal friend of mine. I know her and I can say that she is more involved in whatever community she is living in than most people. Maybe even you. So unless you know her personally, which you can’t or you wouldn’t have posted what you did, then you’re just spouting uninformed nonsense. That does more harm than good to your precious “real world” because it discourages people from trying to make a difference in their own unique ways. Unless you WANT a clone Steppford society that does everything the way you do. As for me…no thanks.

  2. I welcome all transmen into the mens room with me. However, please don’t pee on the seat, I hate that!!!

    • I came here after my friend posted this article on FB, and now I understand why he is so pissed about this.
      Eliza, throw ‘trans’ around however you want but don’t you DARE claim to be of some sort of help or representation of who we are and what we’ve fought for. You are a disgrace and we will NOT consent to the exploitation of our name and community here in Seattle as if it’s some kind of trend available for cis scum like you to just pick up and run with.

    • she never claimed to be trans. her gender expression is none of your fucking business. she has supported the trans community long before her kick-started was even a project. fuck you.

  3. This is awful.
    As a transwomyn, I got kind of excited for a second, but one a few mins on Google Images shows me this artist is full of crap.
    I would think this is cool if she was 15 but this woman is 31 years old and suddenly she has decided she is a pariah and prophet for OUR CAUSE? I’ve literally bled – as in, been beaten in the street – for my trans identity since coming out in 1992. She posted referring to herself as being a heterosexual and cisgender woman on Twitter literally MONTHS ago.

    So Eliza, it saddens me that when I search your work, the first thing that comes up are pics of your very female-born body, hetero cis boyfriends, preference for female pronouns, and, as I see on your Twitter, your feminine lacy underwear that you’ve decided to share with your followers. I’m sick of people using gender fluidity as an umbrella as a way to try to hijack support from our community without contributing s*** to it or embodying it in ANY way.

    • she never said she was a crusader for your cause or whatever. she supports the trans community. you did not look at her Twitter at all or you saw the wrong person, I’ve been scrolling her Twitter and saw almost nothing but text. she has supported tans people and sexual assault survivors long before her kickstarter. get a grip.

    • Here is proof that just because someone is part of a minority community, it doesn’t prevent them from being uninformed assholes. I actually know this artist IRL and she has quite literally bled as well. Just because she’s cis female she can’t empathize with a different community? Man! How racist are you Kassandra? So, a white person can’t say it’s wrong or support a black person being unlawfully shot in the street because they’re white? It’s the same thing. Eliza takes anonamous problem from ALL PEOPLE and tries to create art to help ALL PEOPLE with their problem. Straight, gay, cis, whatever. ALL PEOPLE. And because she supports ALL PEOPLE she HAS bled for your cause. Again quite literally. As far as her images and modeling go, I’m not sure what that has to do with anything about what your talking about. But racists tend to not make sense so….

    • I adore these because they are furious and articulate.

      Eliza is not being deceptive by not fulfilling your initial presumptions. The identity of an artist is crucial to the context of their work, but beware the trap of fetishizing authenticity: if privilege invalidates the earnest attempts to amplify the marginalized, then there is no hope for allyship or equity. I do not believe that behaving like a decent human being is worthy of praise, but to demand silence from someone who with whom you agree but who hasn’t suffered your oppression leads to one result: your lone voice being washed out by the drone of rich cis white men who despise you.

      Perhaps Eliza has the privilege to remain unaffected by others’ oppression, but instead she chooses to answer a request to curse minds of the enemies of a trans person. I find it hard to believe that ignoring that and attempting not at all to make the world just a little better is somehow preferable.