Thursday, October 21, 2010

Posters for the People

I attended an interesting discussion and exhibit last week featuring posters from the WPA - Works Progress Administration - an agency formed during Roosevelt's New Deal administration. The agency employed millions of Americans in an attempt to get Americans back to work - buildings, bridges and roads were constructed, literacy was addressed, and the arts, in all forms, were spotlighted.

The poster project was started as a form of social awareness propaganda. Over 15000 posters were created during the time to address a multitude of issues - you name it, there was a poster produced. Unfortunately, since the posters were not considered fine art, they were never cataloged and retained. The group, Design for Social Impact, is now collecting and archiving posters from this initiative - thus far they have amassed over 1600 posters in the collection - only slightly over 10% of the body of work.

The posters are a glimpse of life in the era of the New Deal - educational, health focused, some somber and serious, many excellent examples highlighting our national parks (a strong initiative of Roosevelt's), playful and comical views of everyday life, and more. Originally they were done by hand, but later silk screening came into play. The graphics are captivating and the fonts are fantastic! Have a look at a few:

If you're interested in checking out the exhibit it is at the Penn State Great Valley campus through the end of December. Watch their website to see future exhibit sites.

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