“Decade of Dissent, Democracy in Action, 1965-1975″ opened with a lovely reception on Sunday, February 23rd at The Santa Monica Art Studios’ Arena 1 Gallery. Curated by Carol A. Wells, executive director and founder of The Center for the Study of Political Graphics, the exhibit of digitally reproduced protest posters are awe inspiring for the historical back-story of each piece, the individual and collective visual aesthetic, and timeless relevance.
After having what she called her “poster epiphany,” Carol began collecting posters voraciously while traveling through Central America during a time of great political unrest in the early 1980′s. Witnessing a young boy approach a poster while inside a friend’s house, she watched him stand before it, attempting to interpret the meaning of what he was looking at by actually mouthing the words written on the poster which read, “By constructing a new country, we are becoming a new woman.” At that moment she realized the potential power of a poster lies in how it draws you in with its “bright colors, bold graphics and slogan, and that it makes you ask a question,” as Carol put it. “And the very act of asking a question, changes you. You are not the same person before you ask the question.” And so, the boy was transformed by the evocation of a question, as Carol too was transformed by the same moment and a different posited question. Thereafter she began to collect posters from around the world; posters that express the political will of the people who have created and distributed them. Her first traveling exhibition took her across America and into Canada purely by word of mouth. She provoked questions and countered wide-spread propaganda coming from the Reagan administration and media, by simply showing and talking about a group of posters that illustrated that the people in Central America were “really fighting for women’s rights, fighting for health care, fighting to become literate.” She formed The Center for the Study of Political Graphics, which has archived over 80,000 human rights and protest posters from around the world for the purpose of research and education, has curated over 25 international shows, become a Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities Fellow, and is now poised to seek donors to help build a museum for her vast collection.
Image: Carol A. Wells discusses poster with gallery guests. (Photo Credit: Sabine Pearlman)
Click here for full article written by Rochelle Robinson
February 27th, 2013