Wednesday, September 4, 2019

New Deal with an old ephemera vibe

As you might guess, I firmly believe that the United States needs a Green New Deal as soon as possible, if not sooner. I don't require any convincing regarding the science of climate change.

I also firmly believe that these new posters touting the Green New Deal (pictured above) are freaking awesome.

Any poster style would have been great, I'm sure. But these are, as CityLab's Amanda Kolson Hurley explains, "intended to evoke posters produced nearly a century ago by a singular federal program in American history: the Federal Art Project, an office of the New Deal-era Works Progress Administration." The new posters were released by the office of U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who was one of the driving forces behind the Green New Deal resolution in February. The designs are by Scott Starrett and Gavin Snider of Tandem.

More from the CityLab article:
"The Federal Art Project was one of five cultural initiatives, known collectively as Federal One, that employed out-of-work writers, musicians, artists, and actors. Over the eight years of its existence, the project’s thousands of artists produced a staggering amount of public art, including 108,000 paintings, 17,000 sculptures, and 2,500 murals. Some 35,000 poster designs were part of that output.

"The posters served manifold purposes, from advertising dramatic productions, agricultural fairs, and community art classes, to issuing public-health warnings about tuberculosis testing and workplace hazards. In the program’s final years, after the United States had entered World War II, artists designed posters with messages urging citizens to be on the alert and to support the war effort.

"Perhaps the best-recognized Federal Art Project posters today, though, are the ones from the 1930s that advertised national parks and monuments. Often rendered in pastel and earth tones, they conveyed the majesty of landscapes like the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone in a style that was modern and romantic at once."
And what did the old WPA posters look like? You won't be surprised to learn that I have some reprint postcards of those designs. Here are a few:

Only about 2,000 of the original 35,000 WPA posters still exist, and the Library of Congress has a collection of about 900 of them.

1 comment:

  1. Americans don't know nearly enough about their own history.
    Here in rural NM are many examples of Depression-era works, many in use still. These folks were good workers. One school, built later, is using its WPA building as storage. Still weather tight.