A. Ivanhoe / The AS Review
A collection of historic posters challenging societal perceptions of race and cultural identity will grace the walls of the Viking Union Gallery from Jan. 12 to 30. The exhibit, titled “Race, Lies and Stereotypes: Posters on Racism and Anti-Semitism,” will include around 40 post-World War II posters conveying anti-racism messages on issues ranging from South African apartheid to police brutality to reparations for Japanese internment during World War II.
“This will be one of the more thought-provoking exhibits this year,” VU Gallery Coordinator Cory Budden said.
“Race, Lies and Stereotypes” is a traveling exhibit of the Center for the Study of Political Graphics (CSPG), a Los Angeles-based organization that collects and preserves post-World War II posters documenting worldwide social justice movements.
“This is our third time working with them,” VU Gallery Assistant Coordinator Allie Paul said. “We thought that it would be kind of nice to continue the tradition.”
Last March, the gallery hosted “No Human Being Is Illegal,” a collection of immigrant rights-themed posters also owned by the CSPG.
The Ethnic Student Center (ESC) collaborated with the gallery to make the exhibit more interactive. ESC Graduate Assistant Norah Fisher and Assistant Program Coordinator for the ESC Courtney Sims worked with the VU Gallery coordinators to organize reception and discussion events in the gallery.
“The posters that are coming in are really powerful,” Fisher said.
The exhibit will be open to the public from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. every weekday in the VU Gallery (VU 507) on the fifth floor of the Viking Union. An opening reception will be held Tuesday, Jan. 13 at 6 p.m in the gallery. The reception is open to all students.
AS Vice President for Legislative and Governmental Affairs Sarah Ishmael will host a discussion to take place in the VU Gallery about the roles that activism and government play in issues related to cultural and ethnic identity. The discussion will be open to the entire Western community and will be held at 5 p.m. on Friday, January 16.
“We want to reach out to the leaders of the communities of color on campus,” Ishmael said. “A lot of people don't associate the civil rights movements with lobbying ... [or] paying attention to which bills are being passed.”
Ishmael chose to host the discussion in the gallery because of the impact of the images on display.
“There is something about visual art that, when you see it, inspires you to react,” Ishmael said. “Art has a way of interacting with the observer and inspiring them to create and to act in a way that's meaningful and that makes a difference.”
Ishmael wished to emphasize that any student is encouraged to attend the discussion, regardless of ethnic identity.
The coordinators for the VU Gallery felt that “Race, Lies and Stereotypes” would be an apt installation to exhibit while other events commemorating the work and values of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. take place on campus.
In addition to the gallery exhibition, the ESC is assisting in the organization of other events leading up to Martin Luther King Day that will be observed on Mon., Jan. 19 this year.
One thousand paper cranes will be on display above the skybridge leading to the seventh floor of the VU to honor Dr. Martin Luther King's commitment to peace and non-violence. The paper cranes were a joint project of the ESC and the Asia University America Program, a group of Japanese exchange students who study at Western.
The Black Student Union will hold a candlelight vigil and reception to honor King's work and values, beginning at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 15 in VU 462. The vigil will proceed to Red Square, where there will be a reading of King's famous “I Have a Dream” speech. At around 6:30 p.m. the vigil will move to the Multipurpose Room in the VU for a reception, where dean of students Ted Pratt will speak. Microphones will then be turned over to the audience for performances of poetry, songs, speeches or any other form of expression relating to the meaning of King's work.
“These events are a great way to celebrate the life and legacy of Martin Luther King,” Fisher said. “We hope that all students, staff and faculty participate, and all are welcomed.”