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Protest posters from 1960s to present exhibited at SFMOMA

Shoib Ahmadzai
Political posters at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Shoib Ahmadzai,
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Social justice political posters from the 1960s to present day, including those relating to the Black Panthers and Black Lives Matter, are on display at The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA).

“I really like the juxtaposition of the old and the new posters,” stated Yagna Madala, a Los Angeles resident and modern art fan who visited San Francisco for a vacation.

The exhibit comes at a time of growing political tension in the country which has promoted a deep divide between both political parties on issues such as the rescindment of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), social activist movements such as Black Lives Matter and increased hostilities with North Korea.

Various anti-war, Black Panthers rally, anti-Nazi and pro-free speech posters decorate the glass protected wall in this exhibit, titled “Get with the Action.” It started on Sept. 16 and is scheduled to continue until spring 2018.

The exhibit, located in a small room on the third floor, stands out from the regular photography art displays. According to Ian Wagner, a museum visitor experience assistant at the MOMA, it is one of the most popular exhibits on the floor.

Jessica Hamilton, another visitor from Los Angeles, said she wished there were more posters on display but added that the exhibit was “beautiful.” She said she came to San Francisco specifically to tour the MOMA. Hamilton also added she felt it was a “funny coincidence” to see Latin American revolutionary Che Guevera, who played a prominent role in the 1956-59 Cuban Revolution, on a poster after recently returning to the US from her trip to Cuba.

Although the museum did not have an advertising campaign for the exhibit, the feedback they received showed that visitors were “positively engaged,” a customer service agent said by phone.

The SFMOMA website describes the exhibit: “‘Get with the Action’ presents the political poster as a powerful tool for organizing and activating communities in response to some of the most pressing issues over the past 50 years, from the Civil Rights and anti-war movements to social justice, immigration, environmental causes and more.”

In addition, the exhibit’s title was “taken from a screen-print by the artist and progressive activist nun Corita Kent,” who “explores the medium of the poster as a communication device” to “inform and energize a wide audience.”

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Protest posters from 1960s to present exhibited at SFMOMA