McDonough Museum exhibit features advocacy posters

Dr. Leslie Brothers
Dr. Leslie Brothers

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Beginning Sept. 12 and running through Nov. 8, Youngstown State University’s McDonough Museum of Art will be hosting an exhibit titled “Graphic Advocacy: International Posters of the Digital Age.”

McDonough director Dr. Leslie Brothers said the exhibit is a collection of 120 posters from more than 30 countries created by approximately 80 graphic artists from all over the world.

“They’re posters that deal with advocacy for causes and events that have taken place over the last 12 years,” Brothers said.

She said some of the specific events portrayed by the posters include the 9-11 terrorist attacks, Hurricane Katrina, the earthquakes in Haiti and Japan, and the nuclear disaster at Fukushima, Japan. Brother said the posters also portray more general subjects such as global warming, child labor, women’s rights and human trafficking.

“Topics that have stayed with us over the years,” she said.

The traveling exhibit is coming from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. The exhibit’s curator is Elizabeth Resnick, who will speak before the Sept. 12 opening. Brothers said this is Resnick’s third exhibition of posters and looking at how effective they are over time.

“We are one of 20 venues at this point and it is a national and international tour. We are delighted and fortunate to have it,” Brothers said.

She said there are many posters in the exhibit that are clever and powerful, but she could not pick a favorite. However, she said there is one poster called “Mighty Mouse” that serves as a metaphor for what the exhibit is trying to do.

“It’s a green hand representing the green movement and the hand is showing a ‘V’ for either victory or the peace sign and it’s holding a computer mouse. The poster represents how effective digital communication and use of the Internet has been to share these ideas and humanitarian efforts. On the wrist is written ‘mightier than the sword.’ To me, the whole exhibit has a message that is mightier than the sword,” Brothers said.

And as far as posters being considered art, Brothers said they are because we can relate to them as images we have seen over time.

“They’re like a visual iconography that’s created by designers and artists that reference a specific moment in history. These specific posters are the visual iconographies of our time. They are symbolic, powerful and moving and reference events we have all experienced together as a nation and globally,” Brothers said.

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