The Beginning Is Near At Bates
by Jamie Thompson
The highly publicized Occupy Wall Street protest in New York City’s Zuccotti Park in 2011 inspired the international Occupy Movement, which advocated for social and economic equality. Although much of the media attention to various Occupy protests focused on the sensational aspects of the movement — its tent communities and virulent social media campaigns, for example — participants utilized decidedly fewer melodramatic tactics to spread their messages. Posters, signs and banners, modest forms of communication though they are, carried striking imagery and thoughtprovoking slogans.
“The Art of Occupy: The Occuprint Portfolio,” on view through March 26 at The Bates College Museum of Art in Lewiston, Maine, features some of the posters created and used during the protests. The Occupied Wall Street Journal, an affiliate of Occupy Wall Street, invited a group of designers and activists to curate an issue of the publication dedicated to the poster art of the movement. The Occuprint Portfolio includes 31 silk-screened posters selected from hundreds of submissions.
Posters range from simple, text-driven graphic designs to more complex, almost painterly compositions. In all of the works, symbolism is key.
“America is Broke,” by John Langdon, is a particularly clever poster. Although it consists only of black block lettering on a white background, Langdon’s placement of the text offers a subtle twist, as it could be read either “America is broke” or “America is broken.” Colin Smith’s “Occupy Everything Pie Chart” is a visual take on the Occupy slogan, “We are the 99 percent.”