Earlier this fall, I realized that many of the posters I’ve made over the last ten years had never been exhibited in Lawrence - at least not in an inside space. That’s because the first audience for them is on the streets, as they are used in rallies, protests, and campaigns for social justice. Another reason is that it can be difficult to find well-traveled spaces that would take them, as I discovered in 2012 when a portrait I made critical of our (former) Governor . was removed from a show in Topeka. I thank the library, especially Heather Kearns, for taking its mission of free speech seriously and making space for this exhibition.
These days, as we reflexively curate opposing points of view out of our facebook feeds, while our local media disintegrates, using the commons of the street to communicate feels ever more important.
I see my posters as akin to editorial cartoons, and the premonitions of prescient radicals who have stood upon soap-boxes throughout history. They are inspired by a long tradition of artist-activists, from José Guadalupe Posada who etched the dramas of the Mexican Revolution taking place outside his shop into wood and copper, to Emory Douglas’s indictments of racism as the Minister of Culture for the Black Panthers, and Favianna Rodriguez’s unrelenting and beautiful defense of the sovereignty of all migrant peoples. They, and many others, are my mentors from afar, reminding me again and again that, as James Baldwin said, “Artists are here to disturb the peace.”
I’ll be giving a talk about this show and more on Sunday, February 18th at 3pm in the Library Auditorium.
Signed 13” x 19” versions of these posters printed on archival paper are available in my website shop. The originals are available too, just contact me through my website if you’re interested.