Have you ever been in the stacks and thought, “Wow some of these drawings are super interesting. I wonder what they mean?” Bwog’s got your back!

If you have ever ventured into the stacks for a late-night study session, one thing you surely have noticed is the numerous works of art carved into the backboards and beams of the study desks. The topic of these drawings range from phallic scribbles to the first draft of a love letter (located on Level 5). Today, we will explore some of the narratives behind these pieces of art and inquire what they might be communicating. 

Ben Dover was here”—Stack Level 3

Some of you may be aware of Ben Dover, the renowned food critic, best known for his stellar review of JJ’s Place that is constantly flashing on the John Jay TV screens. Ben announcing his presence in the Stacks is a big deal. I believe it is likely that we will receive another review from Ben Dover soon, perhaps talking about Columbia’s famous Butler Stacks.

“I wonder what I’m doing right now as you’re reading this – Dec. 1, 2020”— Stack Level 7

This engraving is particularly interesting because the author of this work could be doing anything. See below, a list of ideas of the activities they might be doing, off the top of my head:

  • Skydiving in Scandinavia
  • Exploring the Mariana Trench
  • Eating a hard-boiled egg
  • Deliberating with Jeff Bezos about installing a golden vs silver railing on his yacht
  • Planning a heist
  • Observing an ant colony in their backyard
  • Watching me write this article

As you can imagine, there are several different things this person could be doing. However, I believe those to be some of the top candidates.

Snandy Gary”—Stack Level 5

Here, we see a snail or shelled creature of some sort labeled Snandy which has been crossed out and replaced with Gary. Perhaps a second person came by and recognized the creature and fixed their name, or maybe the original author misspelled Gary the first time. Whatever the case may be, the author(s) of the various snails throughout the Stacks may have been trying to communicate an important ongoing issue. According to the New York Invasive Species Information website, the African Giant Land Snail is an invasive species in New York. The population of the snails in Florida, where the African Giant Land Snail is also present, has been decreasing according to Mary Yong Cong at Researchgate. Meanwhile, the physical size of the Florida-native snails has been increasing. The authors of the works in the Stacks may have been warning us of an upcoming war with the African Giant Land Snails. 

The Love Letter—Stack Level 5

This is the first draft of a love letter written on September 26th of 2017. It appears that the letter has been edited throughout the years of its time in the Stacks. The author’s language in the letter radiates longing and loving emotions. To feel the power of this love letter, you definitely have to read it for yourself and bask in the energy it exudes. The edits certainly aid in giving off a loving and thoughtful vibe by emphasizing certain phrases such as “Bonjour Berengere,” “I feel a sense of comfort and mystery,” and the section in the bottom right with reddish highlighting.

“I’m so proud of you!”—Stack Level 10

While this may be more simple compared to some of the other works I have previously noted, I believe this message is just as powerful. Sometimes you just need reassurance to help raise your spirits. Wholesome messages like these ones aid in helping you push through and continue your studies. 

Runner-up Works of Art:

Tic-Tac-Toe Battle—Stack Level 5

“Beware of Sea Bears”—Stack Level 3

“Physics Sucks.”— Stack Level 3

“You are beautiful” and “heh!!”—Stack Level 10

“Barack Obama CC’83”—Stack Level 8

stacks ART via author