For a while I’ve been interested in learning how to make screen prints with a view to incorporating them into my painting. So this semester I’ve been taking a beginners screen-printing class to pick up the basics. For the final project I had to create a 3-screen “Agitprop” poster to convey my feelings about a current societal issue.
The term Agitprop originated in Soviet Russia as a shortened name for the Department for Agitation and Propaganda that was part of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. It refers to propaganda that was spread to the general public through literature, plays, films, posters and pamphlets.
Generally I don’t refer to politics in my work, but this project gave me permission to comment on the plight of homeless people and the economic divide in cities across the US.
Division St – every resident of San Francisco knows it - the appropriately named street under the Central Freeway where tent encampments form, are removed, and form again. It is dark, noisy and grim. These homeless occupiers of flooded sidewalks and chain-linked corners are away from busy commercial areas and residential streets, but above and around them, twenty four hours a day, cars drive to and from other areas of the city.
In my initial design sketch I drew an area beneath the curved part of the freeway, and removed one of the overpasses to make room for a (geographically challenged) view of the “other” San Francisco.
I then inserted a view of downtown San Francisco office buildings by referring to a cityscape painting/collage that I completed last year: View from Kearny St, 48” x 48”
The sweep of the overpass framing the view in the distance is reminiscent of the dramatic compositions of the WPA National Parks poster series designed in the 1930’s. I discovered the Ranger Doug website that tells the story of the discovery and reconstruction of these old poster designs, and I shamelessly appropriated the font used on many of the posters, and the color scheme from the Bandelier National Monument poster.
Hopefully the contrast between the pretty color scheme and the subject matter in the shadows, combined with my changes to the text and the logo, work together to convey my feelings about this scenario.
This 3-screen poster (image size 18” x 13”) is completely hand drawn with no digital input. Edition of five.