Nowadays, it's commonplace for machines to have a place in the creation of art. However, one instrument is of significant interest to the San Francisco Public Library and the San Francisco Center for the Book, especially as it pertains to the last 60 years.

On display from Jan. 28 through March 19 at SFPL's Main Library and the San Francisco Center for the Book, "Positively Charged: Copier Art in the Bay Area Since the 1960s" looks at the histories of Bay Area arts organizations and artists through the copier art they produced. 

The exhibit also features a talk with its curators, Maymanah Farhat and Jennie Hinchcliff, on Jan. 28 at the Main Library's Koret Auditorium. Both Farhat and Hinchcliff will discuss the impact of copier technology in the Bay Area's art community, as well as the ways in which artists have embraced and utilized the medium. 

Artistic communities in the Bay Area began working with copier art and quick printing throughout the 1960s and '70s.

Places and institutions like North Beach's Postcard Palace, the San Francisco Art Institute and Oakland's Mama Bear's Bookstore carried materials and offered training and equipment. More importantly, they created retail sale opportunities for local artists. 

According to Farhat and Hinchliff, this technology gave artists an accessible medium that implemented affordable practices and allowed for mass distribution. It also allowed artists to experiment with their style and establish their social and political agency.

By the 1980s and '90s, copy shops and institutions such as public libraries became centers for artistic activity. Artists created pieces that commented on Reagan-era politics and other global crises of the time. 

"Positively Charged" highlights the activities of these spaces, as well as the artists who founded and ran them. 

Farhat and Hinchcliff hope to introduce visitors to the region's history of copier art and its established network of artists, the likes of which include Scott MacLeod, Helen Okragly and Sally Wassink among others.