Student responses to "The Graphic Imperative"


  • Ongoing: until Sunday, November 29, 2009
  • Sunday: 12:00pm
  • Tuesday: 10:00am
  • Wednesday: 10:00am
  • Thursday: 10:00am
  • Friday: 10:00am
  • Saturday: 10:00am
  • Where: Spencer Museum of Art, Lawrence
  • Cost: Free
  • Age limit: All ages

A new display of KU design student work, inspired by the current Spencer exhibition The Graphic Imperative: International Posters for Peace, Social Justice, and the Environment, 1965-2005, will be on view in the Museum’s main entry hall through November 29.

Students in Professor Patrick Dooley’s Typography 3 class used The Graphic Imperative as a point of departure for creating their own advocacy posters. In distinction to many of the exhibition posters, which are broad in scope, the class assignment asked each student to adopt a specific advocacy organization and to focus the poster’s message on a particular issue within that organization. That message needed to target a particular audience with a specific solution or action. Each student designed two versions of the poster―one using type plus an image and the other utilizing only type. At the project’s end, 10 of the 68 posters created for the project were selected by Spencer staff and the class themselves to be displayed.

On view through November 29 in the Spencer’s Central Court, The Graphic Imperative is a select retrospective of 40 years of international sociopolitical posters organized by the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Boston. More than 100 posters impart the social, political, and aesthetic preoccupations of several cultures by delineating themes and exploring contrasting political realities. Themes include dissent, liberation, racism, sexism, human rights, civil rights, environ¬mental and health concerns, AIDS, war, literacy, and tolerance, and collectively provide a glimpse into an age of profound change.

The Graphic Imperative was organized in 2005 by curators Elizabeth Resnick, Chaz Maviyane-Davies and Frank Baseman in collaboration with the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, supported in part by The Massachusetts College of Art and Design Foundation and Philadelphia University. The Spencer Museum of Art venue is supported by Richard and Virginia Nadeau, and John and Nancy Hiebert.

A full-color, 80-page catalogue complements the exhibition and includes essays by Steven Heller, art director of the New York Times Book Review and co-chair of the School of Visual Arts MFA/Design program, and Carol A. Wells, art historian, writer, curator, and activist. Also in conjunction with the exhibition, the MCAD created an in-depth website:

Packed with powerful images from designers such as Grapus, Anthon Beeke, Luba Lukova, and Yusaku Kamekura, The Graphic Imperative presents posters that have empowered and moved forward important sociopolitical movements. Some have become modern icons. In a digital world, can “throwaway” ink and paper continue to influence truth, justice, and the American way? See the exhibition and find your own answer.

This event was posted Oct. 30, 2009 and last updated Sept. 16, 2014


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