Poster exhibit:
Works by
Lincoln Cushing

Rotunda Gallery, University of San Francisco School of Law,
2130 Fulton (at Parker Street)

March 7-July 22, 2008

Exhibit curation and
site photos by Saiko Matsumaru

USF Law School poster exhibit

In celebration of peoples' culture, 1978; Organizing Committee for a Peoples' Cultural Center; screenprint	17x22Conflict and migration : The border was once never there, 1980; Borderlands Education Committee; screenprint	18.5x17.5
Survival [play], 1979; Working Committee on Southern Africa; Grass Roots Events; screenprint	26.5x27.5 Have you been exposed to asbestos?, 1979; I.A.M. local 389; Ironworkers local 627	screenprint	18x11.25 2nd national caravan of Salvadorans for peace and justice in Central America, 1986; Comite El Salvador; offset	17x11
Second annual Pilipino National Day, 1979; Pilipino National Day Committee 1979	screenprint	23x17[untitled] Paul Robeson, 1984; screenprint, 38.5x17 Union women build the future, 1986; Coalition of Labor Union Women - East Bay chapter	offset	17.5x17.5
Mujeres embarazadas! Pregnant women!, 1979; Proyecto de Salud, San Diego	screenprint	27.75x16.75 Social struggle and cultural preservation: Education, the arts, and community power, 1997; Eleanor Walden	offset	17x11 General strike!, 1996; California Labor Federation; Oakland Museum; offset	23.5x16
A quest for peace, 1985; 	CISPES; offset	17x11 Music for peace and liberation 'Con-Fest' 1984; [CPUSA], offset	20.5x15 Praise of learning, 1979; screenprint	29x22
Stress at work - your invisible enemy, 1983; Institute for Labor and Mental Health; offset	17x11 Free Speech Movement - 20th anniversary 1964-1984; FSM Commemoration Committee; offset	21x14 The youth connection against intervention, 1983; SANE; offset	22.5x15.5

Artist’s statement
View complete catalog of all work 1969-present

“The artist elects to fight for freedom or slavery.
I have made my choice! I had no alternative!”
-Paul Robeson, Manifesto against Fascism, 1938

The work on these walls represents the union of several distinct genres of art, representing deliberate choices on my part. All are printed duplicates, because I like to be able to give away copies of my art. Most are posters, a specific type of print intended for public display rather than private consumption. And all are explicitly or subtly political – because I have chosen, as did Paul Robeson, to apply my artistic skills for social change.

I started making these as a high school student living in Washington, D.C. during the turbulent 1960s. Inspired by the prints of Sister Mary Corita, a couple of friends and I apprenticed ourselves to Lou Stovall, a local printmaker, and began to learn screenprinting. I decided early on to not try to make a living as an artist, but rather to use my artistic output as a tool for projects of my choice. I continued to make silkscreen posters when I moved to San Diego to go to college, and in 1982 I came to Oakland where I worked with the community resource Inkworks Press and continued to make screenprints on the side.

My current work with these materials involves their documentation and analysis rather than their production. Political posters receive very little academic attention in this country, and there is a huge void in scholarship. I have devoted much of my creative effort to advancing the visibility of these posters and encouraging greater pedagogical use of them.

I am often asked if the Web has replaced the need for posters as a propaganda medium. I believe that posters – big sheets of paper with a message – still have a place in this world, although the historical evidence is that their popularity rises and falls over time. A cool YouTube snip will have its moment, but that poster you put up in the window about the U.S. troops getting out of [insert country of your choice here] will stick around for years.

Technical notes

The screenprints and offset prints here are of sufficient vintage that they were produced with “old school” techniques that bear mentioning. The screenprints, with few exceptions, were made with direct stencils, meaning that sheets of emulsion on mylar backing were cut by hand and then adhered to the screen with lacquer thinner (later on I was able to substitute water-based stencils). All inks were oil-based. Similarly, the offset posters designed before 1996 were produced with technologies now totally transformed by computers. The lettering were sent out to a typesetter and then pasted up; the photos were sized, shot as film halftones, and then stripped onto flats for plate burning. The fields of color were cut on rubylith and stripped in. 


Revolucion! Cuban Poster Art, Chronicle Books, 2003 (author)
Visions of Peace & Justice: 30 years of political posters from the archives of Inkworks Press, 2007 (editor)
Chinese Posters: Art from the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, Chronicle Books, 2007 (co-author)
Art/Works - American Labor Posters, Cornell University Press, expected 2009 (co-author)  

Lincoln Cushing
Docs Populi – Documents for the Public