Another Voice: finding comfort in the political illustrations of the recent past at MCAD

I find comfort in history – in knowing that people are strong that we have endured. As a society we take steps forward, we get pushed back, we gain strength to move forward again. As individuals we don’t always agree on which steps are forward and what’s a push back. Certainly we don’t move forward at the same pace but we endure.

Right now I’m feeling a lot of push back. So I was excited to check out ANOTHER VOICE: Political Illustration of the Late Twentieth Century at MCAD (Minneapolis College of Art and Design. It is an exhibition of more than 100 artworks by many of the nation’s leading editorial illustrators. Between 1981 and 1999 the illustrations occupied the pages of The Progressive, a magazine committed to fostering advocacy and direct action in the cause of democracy, peace, social justice, and environmental awareness.

I was expecting political cartoons. I found that and more. The works had the acuity and subtle satire of the political cartoon and the gut-punch, heart-string-pull of art of full color, full size art. I had questions: Was this when “America was great”? How did we get into and out of that time? I was hoping for answers. I didn’t get them but I got a lot of reminders and fodder for research.

I went with my favorite 12 year old, which meant I spent a lot of time explaining Reagonomics and she spent some time reminding me of the details of the Louisiana Purchase. (Thank you seventh grade American history!)  It was disheartening to see unresolved issues (protection and ownership of Native American land), issues where progress has been minimal (affirmative action) and most crushing to see issues that had been resolved yet I fear will be reopened (some churches’ stance on women).

I was heartened to see the step forward through art and even more so art distributed through journalism. Unfortunately, a big push back now is the stifling of journalism. Maybe this time around art will be the distribution channel. Jack Kerouac wrote, “Don’t use phone. People are never ready to answer it. Use poetry.” Use poetry and use art. This exhibit embodies that advice.

I wanted to comment specifically on Aine’s favorite work below. Her immediate response/explanation – so the man is being killed by his own words? Hmmm? Hmmm!

av-words

The show is open until March 5, 2017. There will be a curator’s talk on February 6 (1:00 pm)

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