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Meshed Histories: The Influence of Screen Printing on Social Movements

May 28, 2009

Lincoln Cushing has just published a new short article entitled “Meshed Histories: The Influence of Screen Printing on Social Movements” on the AIGA site. Here’s the first couple paragraphs, and click on the link at the bottom to read the rest.

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Just like clothes or cars, media can come in and out of fashion. Screen printing—or serigraphy, as it’s called in finer art circles—has been a standard commercial process for more than a century. As a reproduction technique, it has many wonderful qualities. It requires very little in terms of equipment, and even that can be easily made by hand; it is easy to teach and to learn; and it’s very well suited to very short runs of large format objects. It seems like an obvious choice when looking for ways to create prints for the public. Yet there have been at least two periods in history when screen printing was “discovered” by artists—the first was in the United States during the mid-1930s, under the Federal Arts Project of the Works Progress Administration (FAP/WPA), and the second time during the 1960s.
When Public Art Ruled
Between 1935 and 1943 the FAP/WPA was the first, and so far, the last, great effort to put public funding into the arts. It was primarily designed to provide jobs for unemployed artists—at the beginning, 90 percent of the artists had to come from the relief rolls. As an important secondary impact it brought art and artists to the breadth of America. Teaching how to make art was a national priority, and printmaking was an obvious approach. However, conventional art techniques such as lithography or engraving posted pedagogical and technical challenges, and screen printing quickly emerged as a productive choice.

read the rest here.

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