Inspired by the multiethnic, multiracial activism of the Poor People’s Campaign in 1968 and the Justseeds Collective's 2018 Poor People's Campaign Portfolio, the Hunter Wall Poster Project features new posters by local activist artists who use art as a tool for social justice: Nando Álvarez, Adrienne Gaither, and Monolith and Justin Poppe (co-founders of the 411 Collective). The four new posters, combined with Justseed's prints, and posters created through community workshops, will be displayed at branch libraries and throughout the city during spring and summer 2018.
In 1968, over 6,000 protestors occupied the National Mall in a camp known as Resurrection City. There, on a plywood mural known as the Hunger Wall, people drew and painted messages of solidarity among different races, cultures and regions of the country in the human rights struggle. The artists have re-imagined the Hunger Wall using the visual language of street art and graphic design, incorporating collage material from the Library’s historical collections as well as current headlines. Participants in library poster workshops create their own imagery in response to issues of poverty, racism, war, violence and environment—still urgent in 2018.
This project is supported by the DC Public Library Foundation in partnership with the Maryland Institute College of Art/DC Public Library Foundation Curatorial Fellowship, and made possible in part by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
Poster artists worked with curators to create poster kits and workshops with the public. They came up with a few simple icons that symbolize themes of the campaign—systemic racism, poverty, war economy (and militarism), and ecological destruction. The kits include those icons as well as colorful backgrounds, collage material, stamps and markers so that anyone can recombine and add to the imagery and issues in their own way.
All the elements have meaning: The colorful backgrounds were letterpress printed by curator/collaborator NoMüNoMül at the Globe studios at MICA—evoking the vivid street presence of Globe music posters for those of us that grew up in D.C. Teen groups at the library helped research collage material showing images of protest in 2018. And we made stamps from related material in the Library collections—like the mother and child logo from 1968 Poor People’s Campaign brochures, and the logo of the National Black Environmental Justice Network, founded by Leroy “Damu” Smith, a famous D.C. peace activist who advocated for a Martin Luther King Jr. holiday in the 1980s and who was one of the leading voices connecting environmental issues to systemic oppression.