Darren Lee Miller

The Art of Persuasion

The Art of Persuasion
Exhibition Dates: Feb. 23 – March 16, 2010
Opening Reception: Tuesday, Feb. 23 at 7 p.m. in the galleries — will include a talk by Catherine Marsh Kennerley titled “New Deal Legacies: Art and Pedagogy in Puerto Rico, 1948-68.”

The exhibition, part of Allegheny’s Year of Social Change, features the college’s permanent collection of World War I and World War II posters, serigraphs from Puerto Rico’s Division of Community Education, photographs from the Farm Security Administration, and contemporary work by illustrator and political cartoonist Ward Sutton.

World War I and World War II Posters

The war posters, fostered by the U.S. Department of Defense, exhort Americans to support the war effort and beware of subversive agents and saboteurs. Through the juxtaposition of bold typography with dramatic images of combat, the public was urged to make financial sacrifices and work harder so the United States could emerge victorious in World War I and World War II.

Photographs from the Farm Security Administration

Supported by federal funding from the Farm Security Administration, photographers in the 1930s captured the ravages of massive unemployment, the ecological disaster of the Great Dust Bowl, and the plight of sharecroppers and migrant workers. Even today the stark black-and-white images convey a “can-do” characterization of American individualism in the face of overwhelming economic catastrophe.

DIVEDCO Serigraph
DIVEDCO Serigraph
Serigraphs from Puerto Rico’s Division of Community Education

The origins of the Division of Community Education (DIVEDCO) are closely tied to Puerto Rico’s complicated relationship with the United States. DIVEDCO had strong connections to President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. Its early organizers — Edwin Rosskam, Jack Delano and Irene Delano — all had experience in the Farm Security Administration. While sharing the form of New Deal projects, however, the work and substance of DIVEDCO reflected the particularities of Puerto Rico and broader trends within Latin American art and politics.

Work by Illustrator and Political Cartoonist Ward Sutton

Sutton’s political comic strip offers a humorous take on campaign imagery, lettering and graphic design. In addition, it offers an adroit visual analysis of how the interaction of pictorial language and imagery can affect the emotional investment of the targeted audience and effect political success or failure.

“The Art of Persuasion” is supported in part by Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts (PPA), the regional arts funding partnership of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency. State government funding comes through an annual appropriation by Pennsylvania’s General Assembly and from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. PPA is administered in this region by the Arts Council of Erie.