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(Dis)Organize Now!

The U.S. Labor movement has a deep historical connection to art, craft, and artists. Much of this relationship has been forget through print media and music. But as political art, modes of communication, and social networking increasingly "goes digital,"

A. Gabriel Anastasia

on 24 April 2010

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Transcript of (Dis)Organize Now!

(dIS)ORGANIZE NOW! Art has been an important part of the U.S. Labor
movement since the first local trade unions formed around 1760. Cushing and Drescher argue that posters are an effective organizing tool because they are a democratic medium. They have been embraced by organizers and others concerned with supporting working people (5). WE do mind dying, Doug Minkler, 1980; Cushing Archive. Program cover for the Paterson Pageant, I.W.W, by Robert Edmond Jones,1913 (held Tamiment Library) Protect yourself from this menace; IWW, circa 1921; Reuther Archive. They note that early posters were mainly
text because technology between 1760 and 1840
was not yet developed enough to reproduce images easily. As teachnological advances were made in printing (the rotary printing press, 1843) and photography, poster art of the late 1800s gradually transitioned from text to graphics to photographic representations (5). During the Depression, the Federal
Arts Project of the WPA hired fine artists to create
distinctive works of public art and teach craftmaking
to others. Silk screen printing was an especially
inexpensive way to convey messages, and was taken
up by the public as a form of expression (5). The Labor
Movement in the U.S. has long relied on these graphically
represented works of art to "agitate, educate, and organize" (5). But Cushing and Drescher worry that advances in digital technology threaten the art of poster-making. They claim that technology like desktop publishing, digital imaging, the Internet, and color copying have changed the ways in which graphic artists convey their messages (6). "Big sheets of paper with a printed message still have a place in this world. A cool YouTube snip will have its moment, but won't replace a poster in a coffee shop window about how employer X is unfair because of Y reasons" (6). BIG questions for the future of labor... What is work? What is working? What is play? Is the Labor movement ready for some "critical play?" Flanagan notes: “In the West, play became organized and structured around objects at the onset of industrialization. Henri Lefebvre (1901- 1991), noted twentieth-century Marxist critic and philosopher, whose influential writings connect social systcms to space, noted that the construction of the concept of “leisure” was key to contemporary notions of the everyday and that it took the development of a bourgeois culture to create the idea of leisure for all.”
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