Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Poster of the Week

Cedomir Kostovic
Offset, 2004
Springfield, Missouri

CSPG’s Poster of the Week announces the opening this week of Prison Nation:  Posters on the Prison Industrial Complex at U.C. Merced, Kolligian Library.  On Friday, January 24, there will be a series of panels, workshops and poster-making in conjunction with the exhibition, from 2-7:00 pm, at the United Methodist Church of Merced.  The exhibition will be up through March 9, 2013.  For a detailed list of events and addresses, please visit the calendar section of our website:

This updated version of Prison Nation launches Exhibitions -to-Go, CSPG’s new traveling format, using laminated, high quality digital reproductions to travel to venues that lack the security and environmental conditions needed to protect the vintage posters, including community centers, schools and outdoor festivals.  We will continue to travel our vintage posters, but digital reproductions will greatly increase the potential audiences for our powerful exhibitions.

PRISON NATION-Posters on the Prison Industrial Complex demonstrates the integral connection between art and social action. Powerful posters from artists, activists, and organizations around the country and the world, cry out against the devastating impact of the mass incarceration required to support the rapidly growing prison industrial complex (PIC). These graphics are evidence that there has never been a viable movement for social change without the arts being pivotal to conveying the ideas and passions of that movement. Grassroots efforts are more effective when strong graphics project their messages.

While funding for education and the arts plummets, funding for new prisons is skyrocketing. The United States has the largest prison population in the world-over 2.3 million people behind bars-quadrupling between 2008 and 2011. The U.S. has only 5% of the world's population yet we have 25% of the world's incarcerated population. Another sobering statistic is that black men are imprisoned four times more often than any other group: 1 out of 3 black men, 1 out of 6 Latino men, and 1 out of 17 white men will be imprisoned at some point in their lifetime.

This unique exhibition is relevant both to the community most effected by growing incarceration and to artists, activists, students, teachers, social service agencies, and community leaders. The posters in Prison Nation cover many of the critical issues surrounding the system of mass incarceration including: the death penalty, the Three Strikes law, racism, access to education and health care, the growing rate of incarceration, slave labor, divestment, privatization, torture, and re-entry into the community. They show the power of art to educate and inspire people to action.

Over the next two years, CSPG will be traveling Prison Nation: Posters on the Prison Industrial Complex, to six locations in the San Joaquin Valley and the Inland Empire.

This project is funded by the James Irvine Foundation and the California Arts Council.      

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Poster of the Day

Things from the 70s
The Pro-Choice Public Education Project
Offset, circa 1999
Port Chester, New York
Full Poster Text: 
Of All the Things from the 70s to make a comeback, there's one we really hate to see.  Reproductive rights are under attack.  The Pro-Choice Public Education Project.  It's pro-choice or no choice.  1(888)253-CHOICE or

The first three items in the poster:  the Volkswagon “Bug,”  Lava Lamp, and platform shoes, have clearly come back.  But the poster warns against the need to resort to the coat hanger—for too many years the primary symbol of illegal, dangerous, and often, out of desperation, self-induced abortions .  During the decades that abortions were illegal, the coat hanger was one of the most common tools used to cause a miscarriage or abortion, but they often damaged the fetus, perforated the uterus, and led to the sterility or death of the woman.

On January 22, 1974—40 years ago today—the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that abortion was legal in Roe v. Wade.  New data from a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll show that seven in 10 Americans believe Roe v. Wade should stand, but the ruling continues to generate rage and action among those who oppose abortion.
Other controversial issues decided by the Court—such as school integration (Brown v Board of  Education, 1953) or invalidating laws prohibiting interracial marriage (Loving v. Virginia, 1967), are not only accepted by the vast majority of the country, but many even find it hard to believe that such racist laws ever existed.  The decreasing number of anti-choice extremists have become more desperate but also more strategic.  In the past, abortion providers have been shot, sometimes killed, and abortion clinics bombed or burned.   Rather than trying to overthrow Roe v Wade—their ultimate goal—the anti-abortionists are focusing on making abortion increasingly inaccessible, unavailable and unaffordable, by passing local state laws which do everything from mandating  waiting periods, to requiring that clinics have the same staffing levels or equipment systems as hospitals.  This strategy is clearly expressed by Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life, an anti-abortion law firm that works with state groups on local legislation:
"I don't need a constitutional amendment to overturn Roe. Clinic regulations do actually challenge Roe."
In 2011, opponents of abortion rights won passage of a record 92 measures restricting the procedure in 24 states, and in 2012, an additional 43 restrictive measures were passed in 19 states.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Poster of the Week

Amerika Is Devouring Its Children
Jay Belloli
Silkscreen, 1970
Berkeley, CA

CSPG’s Poster of the Week commemorates the tragic death of Aaron Swartz.  It epitomizes the complicity of the state in destroying one of the most creative and productive of our youth.  Aaron’s commitment to democracy and open access to information was threatening to an increasingly authoritarian state. On January 11, 2013, 26 year old Aaron committed suicide, unable to face the prison sentence he was threatened with by overzealous prosecutors.  Aaron was being charged with allegedly illegally hacking into a network at MIT to download scholarly articles only accessible through an expensive subscription service. He had previously said the knowledge belonged to the world.

Although Congressional criticism is mounting against the Federal prosecutors, and both Democrats and Republicans are questioning whether he had been inappropriately targeted, it’s too late for Aaron. 

The title, Amerika is Devouring Its Children, speaks directly to the U.S. Justice Department treating the best of its youth as enemies to be destroyed.

Aaron Swartz

Background to Poster:
In April 1970, when the U.S. invaded Cambodia, a neutral country during the Viet Nam War, college campuses throughout the US erupted in protest, and one-third of them shut down.  At Kent State University in Ohio, four students were killed by national guardsmen deployed to repress the protests. Two days later, two students were killed at Jackson State College in Mississippi.

Outraged by the escalating violence abroad and at home, students at the University of California, Berkeley walked out of their classes.  They silkscreened over 100 designs such as this onto reams of used computer paper, transforming the Goya into an anti-Viet Nam War statement.


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Poster of the Week

Pro Choice.  Fight Rape. Fight Racism. 
Offset, 1989
United States

Rape is not a sexual act, but an act of violence. Rapes happen every day in every country.  Rape is routinely used as a weapon in war.  In Darfur, Sudan, sexual violence against women from targeted ethnic groups is a tool of genocide. Women in the U.S. military are frequently sexually assaulted by men in the U.S. military–even by their commanding officers and the rape victims then threatened to keep silent. 

The brutal gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman in India last month, continues to mobilize and enrage millions throughout the world.  Suddenly rape is in the news.  It’s not that rape is happening more frequently, or more brutally, but recent events have focused the world’s attention on the persistent epidemic of violence against women.

  • Washington, D.C. - January 2012  - A report from the Department of Defense released numbers saying that since 2006 there had been a 64% increase in violent sexual assaults in the U.S. military. The U.S .Army report, noted that “rape, sexual assault, and forcible sodomy were the most frequent violent sex crimes committed in 2011.” While women comprise 14 percent of the Army ranks, they account for 95 percent of all sex crime victims. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta emphasized that “we assume this is a very underreported crime,” and that incidents of sexual assault are roughly six times as high as reports of the crime. Last year there were 3,191 reports of sexual assault throughout the U.S. Military, but Panetta said that, realistically, the estimate for assaults “actually is closer to 19,000.” 
  • California, January 2013 – a California appeals court unanimously ruled that a man who impersonates someone in order to have sexual intercourse may be guilty of rape only if the victim was married and the man was pretending to be her husband. The ruling overturned the rape conviction of a man who entered a sleeping 18 year old woman's dark bedroom after seeing her boyfriend leave, and began having intercourse with her. The woman screamed and resisted when she awoke and realized it was not her boyfriend.  The court’s decision was based an archaic 1872 law that states that the woman had not been raped because she was unmarried and therefore was not protected from rape by imposters.
  • Ohio – In August 2012, a 16 year old girl was raped and urinated on by members of the Steubenville, Ohio football team. The rape only attracted attention after the New York Times published a story in December 2012.  In January 2013, KnightSec, a group affiliated with the internet hacktivist group, Anonymous, published a 12 minute video of the rapists talking about and showing off their victim. 
CSPG’s Poster of the Week states it clearly:  Fight Rape.