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State of the Bay

Fit to Screenprint: A Bay Area Tool for Social Change

Melanie Cervantes

From wheat paste to telephone poles, to museums … tonight we're talking about visual art that addresses social inequities—politically engaged art that challenges and visualizes truth to power. 

Often considered a poor stepchild of graphic arts, political posters have gained legitimacy as a class of art: Right now, this democratic and accessible form of resistance to the dominant cultural narrative of the moment, is hot! The medium, says artist Favianna Rodriguez, is necessarily public and mass-produced -- and must be created with the intention to be shared, not sold in a gallery. 

  • What role have political posters and screenprint played in revolution, social justice, and in in galvanizing public sentiment, in, for example, the Vietnam War, Cuba's revolutionary struggle, AIDS awareness, civil rights, homelessness, immigration, and now Occupy?
  • What intersections of art, social justice, and demographics make the Bay Area a particularly fertile and collaborative ground for poster and printmaking?
  • And how are artists, arts collectives, and storytellers like Dignidad Rebelde participating and collaborating in current social movements?
  • How can we ensure that skills learned from past generations of artists are passed on to future generations?

Joining host Lauren Meltzer in the studio:
Lincoln Cushing: Lincoln is a printer, artist, archivist, author, and librarian. He is involved in numerous efforts to document, catalog, and disseminate oppositional political culture of the late 20th century. He is the author of several books, including Revolucion! Cuban Poster Art, and Visions of Peace & Justice: 30 Years of Political Posters from the Archives of Inkworks Press. He is the guest curator at the Oakland Museum of California for the 2012 exhibition All Of Us Or None: Social Justice Posters of the San Francisco Bay Areaand the author of a catalog by the same title. 

Exhibition: All of Us or None, Oakland Museum of California

March 31, 2012 - August 19, 2012

Melanie Cervantes: Melanie is is a Chicana activist-artist who believes art is best when developed collaboratively. She co-founded Dignidad Rebelde to address this value. Emerging from the everyday struggles of Third World and Indigenous peoples, Dignidad Rebelde produces art intended to transform people’s stories into a radical visual language which is then returned to those who initially inspired it.

Upcoming:  Occupy Bay Area, July 7, 2012 to Oct 14, 2012
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
San Francisco, CA         

Art Hazelwood: Art calls himself an artist, impresario and instigator. He has organized artists’ retrospectives as well as nationwide political art shows. He has curated several museum exhibitions including the traveling show, Hobos to Street People: Artists’ Responses to Homelessness from the New Deal to the Present.

His artwork ranges from screenprint posters to fine press artist books and public art projects. His art is in several collections including the Whitney Museum of American Art, and regularly appears in the street papers Street Sheetand Street Spirit. He has created artwork including posters with homeless rights groups since the early 1990s. 

Exhibition: Street art at the Luggage Store, San Francisco through June 23
Occuprint: Website of Occupy posters available for download free

Los Angeles-based collection of political posters