Saturday, January 8, 2011

Poster of the Week

The iconic 1942 We Can Do It poster encouraging women to enter the work force during World War II, was inspired by a United Press International (UPI) photo of Geraldine Doyle, a 17 year-old factory worker from Michigan who died last month. She did not know that she was the model for this widely reproduced and frequently appropriated poster until reading about it in a magazine in 1984.

Rosie the Riveter is a fictional figure representing the American women who worked in factories during World War II. She was featured in a widely recorded song written in 1942, and a 1943 Saturday Evening Post cover by Norman Rockwell. But the most famous and enduring image of this cultural icon became identified with the 1942 We Can Do It poster by J. Howard Miller (1918 – 2004), who painted many posters during World War II in support of the war effort. We Can Do It was one of a series of posters he painted for the Westinghouse Company (later, the Westinghouse War Production Co-Ordinating Committee), and he was hired to create a series of posters. The posters were sponsored by the company's War Production Co-Ordinating Committee, one of the hundreds of labor-management committees organized under the supervision of the national War Production Board.

The We Can Do It poster was scheduled to be displayed in Westinghouse facilities for only two weeks in February 1942, followed by the next poster in the series. As time passed, however, it took on a whole new life.
Posters such as We Can Do It encouraged women to enter the workforce, to replace male workers who were in the military. Conditions were sometimes harsh and pay was not always equal—the average man working in a wartime plant was paid $54.65 per week, while women were paid about $31.50. Nonetheless, women quickly responded to Rosie the Riveter, who convinced them that they had a patriotic duty to enter the workforce.
Women’s magazines aided this effort by promoting meals that could be made quickly, after work. After the war, these same magazines printed recipes for more elaborate, multi-course meals, as part of the effort to get women out of the workforce so that the returning servicemen could have the jobs.
During the 1970s women’s movement, the We Can Do It poster became a U.S. feminist icon, and continues to inspire variations and appropriations. The posters included here will all be included in American Icons—Posters of Patriotism & Dissent to premiere at the Maltz Gallery, Otis College of Art & Design, Los Angeles, CA; April 1- 16, 2011.

Si Se Puede!
Syracuse Cultural Workers
Offset, 2001
New York, NY

Sorry Boys...I'm Gay!
Artist Unknown
Offset, 2008

Marcha L├ęsbica
Alma Lopez
Global Fund for Women
Offset, 2006
Mexico: Mexico City

3rd Mexico City Lesbian March

Cristina Serna, a native Chicana from East Los Angeles and UCSB graduate student, poses as J. Howard Miller’s classic W.W. II rendition of Rosie the Riveter, traditionally titled We Can Do It. Serna flexes her right fist and proudly shows off a tattoo of the Virgen de Guadalupe and Sirena embracing each other as they float on a Viceroy butterfly surrounded by a Sacred Heart.

The background is composed of multiple photographs taken during the previous two Mexico City Lesbian marches and demonstrations in the Zocalo, Mexico’s historic center. Behind hundreds (and possibly thousands) of lesbian activists uniting from various cities in Mexico and the U.S., is the largest and oldest cathedral in the Americas and the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Mexico. A nearby banner reads, “Lesbians, breaking barriers, crossing borders.”

Butterflies fly up into the sky. The idea is that the activists’ intention created in that space and time will scatter to diverse areas of Mexico, the U.S. and beyond ignoring borders, and creating awareness and change.

Drill, Baby, Drill
Artist Unknown
Offset, 2008
United States


Above is source of photo of Geraldine Doyle holding Rosie the Riveter poster, photo by Robert Killips/AP

No comments:

Post a Comment