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Hoosiers Can View Art as a Tool of Social Change


Monday, February 17, 2014   

INDIANAPOLIS - Hoosiers have a rare opportunity to get an up-close look at the power of art and the role it plays in social activism. A traveling poster exhibit will be in Indiana over the next week, featuring 59 posters from more than 20 social justice movements. According to Erin Polley, Indianapolis program coordinator with the American Friends Service Committee, the display demonstrates the effectiveness of boycotts as a nonviolent tactic to end injustice and oppression.

"Art is a really powerful tool to reach people, and some of these posters, even before graphic design, (are) really incredible and (have) amazing imagery and colors that tell a really fascinating story about social change around the world," she declared.

The exhibition, "The Boycott! The Art of Economic Activism," was created by the American Friends Service Committee and the Center for the Study of Political Graphics. It will be on display at Butler University in Indianapolis this week, and then at Earlham College in Richmond next week. The exhibit is free and open to the public.

Polley said the posters are from a variety of movements from the 1950s until now, including the Montgomery bus boycott, South African Apartheid protests, the Palestinian call for boycotts of Israel, and protests of corporations using sweatshops.

"We really hope this is an opportunity for viewers to challenge and evaluate their economic choices and consider whether or not our choices contribute to a more just and peaceful world," she said.

The display opened last fall in Washington, and has been traveling the East Coast. Midwest program director for the AFSC, Jennifer Bing, said there are a variety of venues that have hosted the show, but colleges and universities provide an ideal environment.

"We see that it's students that are engaging in economic activism, whether it's around climate change, fossil fuels or around human rights, but there are all different kinds of venues where this will be displayed."

The display will be at an art gallery in Fort Wayne later in the year.

More details are at

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