The January 2009 installment of spins & needles in Ottawa takes place on Friday January 23rd at the Montgomery Legion Hall from 8:00 p.m. onwards. The theme is New Years Crafts: Craft up a nifty DIY 2009 calendar OR create a collaged resolutions canvas to keep your goals in check.
The poster for this month’s installment was inspired by the current economic situation combined with some songs on Jason’s new DJ mix. It’s a contemporary take on the tough times of the 1920s and the swing era, a double play on making cuts during the downturn yet having fun and cutting stuff up at the event. Those living in Ottawa aren’t probably affected as much (because it is a civil servant town), but the bus strike and the freezing cold weather isn’t making it easier for anyone to get up and leave the house.
In London this past summer I caught a prints exhibition at the British Museum entitled The American Scene: Prints from Hopper to Pollock, which features images of American society and culture made during a period of great social and political change from the early 1900s to 1960, with prints from artists such as Edward Hopper to Jackson Pollock to Louise Bourgeois. It highlighted printmaking under the Federal Art Project of the New Deal, which supported artists under the Works Progress Administration program implemented by the US Government during the Depression. Many artists used the opportunity to make socially conscious prints. It was also during this time that screenprinting, or silkscreening, was established as an artistic technique and mass communication medium. The image below is a print by by the Ukrainian born Precisionist Louis Lozowick called New York, inspired by the hustle and bustle of the 1920s modern city.
During one of my usual serendipitous searches today, I came across Readymade Magazine’s recent take on populist poster art of the first Great Depression (via Treehugger). As RM elaborated: “It gave unemployed artists work while demonstratively branding the virtues of the nation through rousing mass communication. The WPA Poster Division was mandated to promote the cultural and social programs that FDR’s administration took great pains to foster.” And as RM rightly points asks, what role can artists and designers play during the current economic (and psychological) depression? Will the President Obama (re)invest in the arts through major work projects as FDR did in the past?