You Like Posters? So Do I.

Northland Poster Collective had some good things to say, or sell rather.  Unfortunately, it closed in June.  Now, I meant to blog about this ages ago.  But, they have up and closed on me.  Where am I going to get my bumper stickers that say: “Keep Your Rosaries Off My Ovaries!” and other suck ilk?  Well, actually, I’ll just keep my rosary off my own ovaries, but here goes another tangent.  Well, turns out much of the Collective’s work has been archived in Los Angeles’s Center for the Study of Political Graphics.  On that tip, go see the Emory Douglas exhibit at The New Museum on Bowery.  It will leave you laughing, smirking, crying, and mmhmmming.  However, I do admire a good legacy site reminding me of the good ole days:  “For thirty years it was an activist art organization and business devoted to using art in support of organizing, education and movement building.”  Northland shall live on just as social justice will continue to march forward.

The Center for the Study of Political Graphics (CSPG) describes the importance of political art on their site, but for your convenience I am copying and pasting their blurb on THE POWER OF POSTER ART:

“All art is political, but not all art is overtly political. Protest posters flaunt their politics to generate controversy. Raw and aggressive or polished and sophisticated, political posters are the graphics of dissent from existing injustices. Produced in multiples, often with urgency and any means available—offset, lithograph, silkscreen, linocut, stencil, woodcut, photocopy, or laser—few copies survive. Slapped on walls surreptitiously, often at great risk, by collectives and anonymous individuals or carefully fashioned by recognized artists in well-equipped studios, protest posters communicate instantly and directly to both literate and non-literate viewers. Like all art, political posters stir emotions and reflection. They can deepen compassion and commitment, ignite outrage, elicit laughter, and provoke action. Transmitting and promoting the ideals, hopes, and dreams of millions who have dared to raise their voices in protest, political posters empower and propel diverse movements for social change” (

Basically, do not underestimate the power of art, especially political art/propaganda art – it did not die with the Soviets.  Look at what Shepard Fairey did for this past election.  You will never forget the ubiquitous throwback ‘Soviet’ style poster that became synonymous with Obama’s grassroots organizing.  By not being a greedy capitalist, Fairey let people appropriate it for their own use because he did not copyright it.  It was open source, essentially – the way all computer software ought to be, but that’s another story for another day.  It empowered people to imbue their own meaning in the image which made it inclusive.   By being inclusive yet similar enough to be somewhat the same, it became a unifying symbol.  It even unified those for and those against.  No one who is alive during this time who has not seen this image.  In fact, it will be that rumpled piece of scrap in the attic that the grandkids will discover pleading for a story.  And you shall have to share.  So, take notes and get your facts straight.

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