INTERNATIONAL POSTERS AT LAMONT
by Linda Chestney
Exeter, New Hampshire – It’s a fine art to be pithy while at the same time capturing your activist message in an image. That is the goal of “Graphic Advocacy: International Posters for the Digital Age 2001-2012,” the exhibi- tion that will be gracing the walls this January and February at Lamont Gallery on the Phillips Exeter Academy campus.
Curated by Elizabeth Resnick, professor and chair of graphic design at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston, the show features 122 posters by artists and designers from around the world who present powerful visual statements addressing pressing social, political, economic and environmental concerns — issues ranging from global warming and freedom of expression to equality, poverty, terrorism and so many more.
DISSENT MADE VISIBLE
Resnick considers posters a medium for social change. They record our struggles for peace, social justice, environmental defense and liberation from oppression. Confrontational and political, persuasive and educational, the poster in all its forms has persisted as a vehicle for the public dissemination of ideas, information and opinion. “Posters are dissent made visible,” Resnick said. They communicate, advocate, instruct, celebrate, and warn while jarring us to action with their bold messages.
“Technology,” Resnick said, “has exponentially expanded the poster’s role well beyond the limitations of the printed surface, and has become a core component of 21st Century advocacy.”
Employing many of the same powerful tools that designers in an advertising agency might use to sell a product, influence the audience they’re after or simply to “make a difference,” these poster artists are, in their own rights, activists. The compelling body of work in this exhibition reflects a variety of perspectives on social and economic topics while showing how design can serve the need for personal expression — as well as propel people forward using a dynamic message and/or image.
OUTSIDE THE BOX
Interestingly, the pieces represent a distinct indistinction in that you can’t tell for the most part what national affiliation an artist might have. We’ve crossed the Internet barrier where we are all citizens of the great Web and part of a global culture.
Hoping against hope, in 2011, Ecuadorian designer Belen Mena created “Year of Forests,” using the printed plea for “No More Global Warming” to protest the degradation of forests and loss of land due to global warming. Layering Japanese fan-like structures featuring verdant plants on a green background, this work is a call to address this ongoing issue.