There’s no doubt that art is political. This is why governments have either tried to limit the arts with laws surrounding content or encourage the ‘right’ kind of art by providing patronages since the first artist put marks on walls. It’s all a matter of spin control.
But what happens when artists don’t play nice with those in power?
Well, that’s why we have satire, caricature, graffiti, and stand up comedians.
It is also the realm of the protest placard, poster, sandwich board and effigy and there were plenty of those on display this past weekend at Queen’s Park.
Now, I’m not interested in a debate on this blog. The fact that I was participating in The Women’s March on Washington – Toronto should tell you everything you need to know about my politics. What my purpose here is to celebrate the artists and designers who took the time to create pieces of political public art that are rarely celebrated, the protest sign.
Now, without further ado…
These posters were some of the official images donated royalty free to the Women’s March. The first is “Our Bodies, Our Minds”, created by Jennifer Maravillas. Jennifer is based in Brooklyn, NY and specializes in illustrations and cartography. She is probably best known for her Manhattan Memories Map.
The second image, “Hear Our Voice”, was designed by artist Liza Donovan. A graphic artist by training, Liza lives in Charlotte, NC , where she has a diverse practice developing everything from logos, to movie posters, to direct mail catalogues.
It was not in the least surprising to see many images of Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia at the march, so much so that Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself on Twitter) took note. The image that I saw most often, A Woman’s Place is in the Resistance, was developed by Hayley Gilmore, a Mississippi designer who donated her work royalty free for the march. You can see more of Hayley’s work at BUST.com, Buzzfeed, Hello Giggles and CBS This Morning.
This image, created by artist Molly Crabapple, illustrating a quote by James Baldwin was almost prescient given yesterday’s White House briefing by Sean Spicer and follow up by Kellyanne Conway. “Ignorance allied with power is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.” Crabapple developed this portrait of the author as part of PEN America’s #writersresist campaign, with money from the poster’s purchase supporting the Black and Pink campaign. Molly is an award winning artist and writer living in NYC.
Finally, these I have not been able to find an attribution for these two pieces. I admit to being partial to the one on the right, having been a Rogue fan for longer than I care to admit. If you happen to know the designer, please give me a shout so I can give them props. If you are one of the brilliant people in this image, please let me know where you got your posters. They were some of my favourites of the march.
The title comes from Margaret Atwood’s novel, The Handmaid’s Tale: “Nolite te bastardes carborundorum. Don’t let the bastards grind you down.”