- Text by Adam White
- Photography by American Flag [Untitled], 1970. Courtesy Shapero Modern.
Berkeley University in California has long been associated with student activism. Starting with the free-speech protests and the beginnings of the counterculture movement in the 1960’s, to the week-long rallies against police violence in 2014, and everything in between.
The posters stem from demonstrations against a wave of militant conservatism in the early 1970’s. Not only the 1970 massacre of four unarmed students at Kent State University by members of the National Guard, but also the continued Vietnam War and President Nixon’s decision to reinstate the military draft.
The posters themselves are the work of the university’s Political Poster Workshop, a campus collective of art, design and politics students. In the wake of the Kent State killings, the group immediately launched a production line of silk-screening and cardboard printing for protest, with the 50 posters on display the last remaining relics of their demonstrations.
Barry Miles, curator of the exhibit, says that the posters are “a frozen snapshot of American graphic design at the end of the sixties, as well as a unique sociological record of a society in crisis.”
Find out more about America in Revolt: The Art of Protest, at Shapero Modern until February 27.