Design New England

Archival revival

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Two dead in Mississippi is a silkscreen poster by James DiSilvestri and The Graphic Workshop created in 1970. Photo courtesy of The Graphic Workshop.

By Allison Nekola

An artist’s collaborative, created by Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt) students during the 1970 national student strike, The Graphic Workshop was committed to producing hundreds of silkscreen posters smothered in political activism. In bold color and striking graphics, its works supported antiwar and civil rights protests of the time, and later, the environmentalist movement of the 1980s and ‘90s, but it also publicized avant-garde theater and public health campaigns. An exhibition dedicated to the accomplishments of the workshop, Rebellion and Grace: The Graphic Workshop 1970-1992, opens August 24 at MassArt’s President’s Gallery. It showcases 85 posters and features other archival materials tracing the group’s activist origins.


Among the featured works are posters by Rob Moore, the original Graphic Workshop faculty advisor, and Felice Regan, dubbed “Queen of the Screen,” she was on of the group’s founders and navigated it through two decades of collaboration.
Two dead in Mississippi refers to the two black students who were shot and killed by police at Jackson State University in Mississippi in 1970, only several days after four white students at Kent State University were killed. National media disregarded the news of the Jackson University killings, exposing a bias in news. Today’s Black Lives Matter movement calls attention to similar discrepencies.

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The Common Puffin, Endangered is a silkscreen poster by Rob Moore and The Graphic Workshop created in 1980. Photo courtesy of The Graphic Workshop.

Interest in saving endangered species grew during the 1980s.The Common Puffin, Endangered poster was created to raise awareness about the plight of the puffin and to encourage the restoration of the bird’s breeding grounds in the United States.

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Free Bobby is a silkscreen poster by James DiSilvestri and The Graphic Workshop, created in 1970. Photo courtesy of The Graphic Workshop.

Issued to protest the sentencing of Bobby Seale, the founder of the Blank Panther Party, to four years in prison following his conviction on charges of inciting riots during the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Free Bobby was in such demand that The Graphic Workshop re-printed it several times.
Rebellion and Grace: The Graphic Workshop 1970-1992
August 24–September 25
Monday-Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Admission: Free
Massachusetts College of Art and Design, President’s Gallery
621 Huntington Ave, Boston, MA; massart.edu.

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