The following press release is from the Skirball Cultural Center:
As Americans strive to make their voices heard this election season, "Decades of Dissent: Democracy in Action, 1960–1980" provides a colorful reminder of how artists in the 1960s and 1970s used protest posters as a vehicle for social change. Organized by the Center for the Study of Political Graphics, the exhibition displays 28 original posters that address a range of compelling issues and showcase some of the most memorable images and slogans from that time period.
"Decades of Dissent" will be on view at the Skirball from Oct. 11, 2012 through Feb. 17, 2013.
The collection of posters in "Decades of Dissent" features many iconic bywords of the 1960s and 1970s, such as "Black is Beautiful," "Make Love, Not War," and "Ecology Now." They commemorate significant historical events, including the first Gay-In and Earth Day (both in 1970), the United Farm Workers grape boycott and 1969’s People’s Park struggle. Works by noted artists such as Robert Rauschenberg and Sister Corita Kent are included, as well as such indelible imagery as the yellow sunflower of "War Is Not Healthy for Children and Other Living Things," in both English and Vietnamese, and the swirly, psychedelic "Peace Now" dove.
Many of the posters in the exhibition illustrate important causes of the era, including the Vietnam War, the environment and Mexican-American unionism. The posters also reflect emerging identity politics: feminism, the "Black Is Beautiful" movement, the American Indian movement, gay rights and the memorialization of World War II Japanese internment. Artistically, the posters reveal bright, bold pop art, psychedelic stylings and casual, hand-drawn lettering.
Insightful labels give historical context for each poster and detail the context in which each poster was created and displayed. Many posters are accompanied by quotes from their creators. Quoting James Baldwin, Sister Corita Kent eloquently frames the role of the artist in the political process:
"The war of an artist with his society is a lover's war. And he does at his best, what lovers do, which is to reveal the beloved to himself, and with that revelation, make freedom real."
"Decades of Dissent" is part of a campus-wide initiative devoted to “Democracy Matters at the Skirball,” which includes the exhibitions Creating the United States and Free to Be U.S.: A First Amendment Experience, and a special “Lincoln Spotlight” on view in the Skirball’s core exhibition, Visions and Values: Jewish Life from Antiquity to America.
For more information on “Democracy Matters at the Skirball” exhibitions and related programs, please visit www.skirball.org/democracy-matters.