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Strike Graphics


Hall flows with the strike. But its demands are any that someone puts on the poster that he makes there.

The formation of this operation is one of those great accidents of revolution. How can so many people of such concerted energy be so without ambition? Can you explain why such a group wants to exist? Do you want to? What they are doing is far and away the most aesthetic part of the overthrowing process.

The posters of the Strike Artists' Co-operative, especially the more abstract ones, are high art in its most self-justifying sense. That is, they make the walls they're pasted on better to look at, and they lift human participation in the strike out of pure rhetoric.

Moreover, it is always an ecstatic pleasure to see art forms (in this case, the poster) lend itself so well to the practical needs of the community in terms of communication and education. What is appealing about the medium of the strike posters is their personal message from a group of unassuming striking people to a larger group of undecided Harvard people. The posters try to reach people, not direct them. They are tacked on trees and plastered on walls, not pinned to bulletin boards. (They are, in fact, ripped down by "officials.")

The posters are hand-cut, too. This is important. Before the Friday night when the Strike Artists' Co-operative began, none of them had known about the technique of silk-screen printing. A couple of people brought in the method and showed them how it goes. Since then about thirty people have picked up the process by which virtually all of the posters of the strike have been printed.

Of the dozens that have been run off at the GSD (and anyone who comes in with an idea is shown how to make his own and allowed to do it), a few are exceptionally magnificent and approach the best work produced by a whole country full of screaming leftists in France last Mai. There is the "on strike abstract" poster (see Strike Graphics Illustration #4), which is a print that was originally a woodcut and was adapted to silk-screen for reproduction. Its use of a circular figure makes it the most suggestive of the strike workshop's designs.

The "Too Much of Nothing" poster (see Strike Graphics Illustration #3) is a simply great, vaguely cubist construction with the letters "Too Much of Nothing" alternately dropping in and out of a background map of Harvard Yard. The silk-screen method is a medium particularly well suited to alternating blacks and whites so the background and foreground read over each other in a reverse transparency. The technique makes the "Too Much of Nothing" poster at first hard to read, but ultimately a wonderful design.

The "1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Strike" poster (see Strike Graphics Illustration #1) is the best effort of the simplicity form. And the "big fist in the air" poster (see Strike Graphics Illustration #2) goes best when it's demanding "Black Studies." There is something about the letters "B" and "k" that are really miltant; besides, it looks better in black than red.

It's the fists that help keep the Strike Artists' Co-operative going. The hundreds of people who come in and ask for a red fist on their shirts are, in turn, asked to donate money. The materials are purchased mainly from this fund. They are not supplied by the Graduate School of Design, nor does the workshop accept money from SDS or any other political group.

Finally, a man from Truc's Poster Gallery (a store) came in the other day smoking a cigar and offered to buy up some of their stuff. The workshop people told him they only make posters to put on trees so people can read them. So that's the only place they are.

In the way of strike fashions, Krackerjacks (another store) has begun selling red armbands at 25c apiece. Red armbands started as symbol of support for SDS's position last Friday. Aside from their left-associated color, they have that frayed appearance that most revolutionaries usually think of themselves as having. Probably derived from tying a string around your finger to remember something, they are most important for the sense of participation they give the people who wear them. And the importance of feeling participation can't be overrated in something like a strike.

Buttons are made a form of advertising your mind (whereas the armband is more the feeling of your heart). As might be expected, buttons, too, are on the climb. They are more and different.

A strange new form came out at one large meeting of SDS, the one last Sunday night. It was the mass distribution of printed orange rectangular pieces of paper, three inches by four, reading, "Abolish ROTC, Stop Expansion, Strike." I think you are supposed to stick it on your car window.

The latest in strike fashions are the new "Abolish ROTC, STRIKE, No Expansion, Black Studies" red shiny ribbons that you can get through SDS headquarters in Emerson Hall. For a group that has no leaders, it would be interesting to see how such decisions as getting ribbons printed are made. The answer is probably that no one makes them, the ribbons just happen.

Lastly, there are those who put on exhibitions, or displays. The flying of an SDS flag from the top of University Hall falls into this category. So does the burning of SDS in effigy put on by the ten students who comprise "the conservative majority of Harvard undergraduates."

The Guerrilla Theatre of SDS (written up in yesterday's paper) puts together a long-rehearsed show for a low intensity medium. And now the Strike Artists' Co-operative has prepared a photo exhibit of last week's more visual events. As of this writing, it was not yet finished. But what I saw made up a much more complete representation of what happened than your average campus revolt usually gets historywise. A good show.

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