Communicating Across Cultures
The simplicity of design is deceptive; the few words more so. The lines—straight, angular, corrugated—form familiar, yet disturbing, patterns. The shapes are all too familiar, but seem somehow wrong.
Colors blend into recognizable themes and specific cultural references. The expressions of grief, rage, and acquiescence are sharp, cutting at the senses. One can see, taste, smell, feel the pain and anguish being depicted. They are merely posters—the ephemera of human communication. Yet, they transcend their single dimension and trace multi-dimensional patterns in the mind. When viewed individually each poster tells a story of human endeavor, often painful, scandalous, obscene. Collectively, they speak without utterance of the coarser side of human interaction over time.
This exhibition, aptly titled, The Graphic Imperative, examines the graphic expressions of the human condition spanning over forty years. While a knowledge of history aids in the deeper meaning and understanding of the depictions, it is not necessary to grasp the cultural and political expressions the artists wish to convey. In subtle, and sometimes not so subtle, ways they reveal the tragedy, foibles, and vilified silence inherent in human activity. The portrayals are singular episodes of the human condition; yet universal, touching every culture, every person simultaneously and individually. They demand our attention.
Look and don’t touch has little meaning in this exhibition. Look, and be prepared to be touched; for here, in this limited space, spans an unlimited view of humanity that knows no bounds. A humanity depicted so simply, yet so complex.
Prof. Ray Schuck is a visiting assistant professor and collections specialist in the Department of History, Politics and Justice.
image: Yusaku Kamekura, “Hiroshima Appeals 1983,” Japan, 1983, 103 x 72.8 cm.