A Personal Picket Sign

I liked this poster immediately. It’s innocent, almost childlike, which contradicts strongly with its poignant message. The words seem etched in crayon, and the handwriting—a bit off kilter—as well as the scribbled coloring, are in line with its simple theme.

A sunflower coupled with a simple and direct message is the basis for Lorriane Schneider's 1967 poster protesting the Vietnam War.

But I like it even more now that I know the story behind it.

This poster was created by a mother. Like any mother having brought life into the world, she was dedicated to preserving it.

Concerned that her eldest son would be drafted into the army and shipped off to Vietnam, Lorriane Schneider designed the print in 1967 to protest the war, the draft, and the growing number of American deaths. She chose a flower, a ubiquitous symbol of hope at the time, and drew four leaves on the stem, one for each of her four children.

Out of the poster a movement grew.  Begun by only 15 ladies, the organization Another Mother for Peace was founded later in 1967 with a mission of “educating women to take an active role in eliminating war as a means of solving disputes between nations, people and ideologies.” It continues today as a non-profit, and the group uses the print as its official logo.

Despite the poster’s quiet appearance and soft style, it drove a loud and stirring movement. Even without the in-your-face, bold approach common to a lot of protest art, the poster and its message gave way to a striking anti-war statement.

This poster is notable not because of what it looks like, but because of what it achieved.

Schneider called it her “personal picket sign.” But she didn’t carry it alone.

‘Rosie the Riveter’ Rouses Women

It’s a compelling example of political propaganda: patriotic, convincing, confident, and strong.

“Rosie the Riveter” looks the ideal woman as she proudly pronounces “We Can Do It!” to fellow females in this 1942 World War II propaganda image.  A fictional product of the U.S. government, “Rosie the Riveter” was commissioned for creation to encourage women to join the work force and aid in the war effort.

A product of artist J. Howard Miller, “Rosie the Riveter” compelled women to join the wartime work force.

Following the Japanese bombing of Pearl

Norman Rockwell is also credited with creating a popular “Rosie the Riveter” image used to encourage women to aid the war effort. Rockwell’s “Rosie” appeared on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post.

Harbor in December 1941 and the full-blown involvement of the U.S. in World War II, women were called upon to join a work force which had been severely depleted by the military draft. Because the idea of women working was unseemly and controversial, the U.S. government saw the value in launching extensive campaigns to persuade women to join the work force.

Pittsburgh artist J. Howard Miller was hired by the War Production Coordinating Committee to create a number of posters for the war effort, and “Rosie the Riveter” was his product. Miller based his “We Can Do It!” poster on a photograph taken of Michigan factory worker Geraldine Doyle.

Following Miller’s creation, other “Rosie’s” were conjured by artists of the day, most notably Norman Rockwell, whose own “Rosie” appeared on the May 29, 1943 edition of The Saturday Evening Post.

“Rosie” has come to symbolize the millions of real women who worked in America’s factories, plants, and shipyards during WWII and remains one of the most recognizable propaganda characters.

“Rosie’s” character found its way into other art forms such as music. Listen to the 1942 song, “Rosie the Riveter” by The Four Vagabonds. 

The SOPA Saga

At the ripe old age of 43, it appeared that the Internet had died.

Day of death: January 18, 2012.

Only ten days ago, Internet brain-child Wikipedia announced the Internet’s death with a morbid headstone plastered across its homepage. It read simply, “Internet: 1969-2012.”

Published on Wikipedia's homepage on Jan. 18, the headstone was one of many images symbolizing the web-based protest of SOPA and PIPA.

No epitaph was necessary.

The image was part of a larger protest that drew an estimated 7,000 websites together against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) bill originating in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate bill equivalent, Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA).

In an effort to raise awareness, sites across the web coordinated a service blackout on Jan. 18 and demonstrated their angst by posting links and images in protest against SOPA and PIPA. Wikipedia’s R.I.P. icon played an essential role.

Provisions in SOPA would have expanded the ability of U.S. law enforcement to fight online trafficking in copyrighted intellectual property and counterfeit goods. Proponents of the bill said it protected the intellectual property market and bolstered enforcement of copyright laws, while opponents held that the legislation threatened free speech and innovation by essentially censoring the web and its content.

Countless petitions, constituent outcries, and web-based objections killed both SOPA and PIPA.

The headstone has since taken up new residence on Wikipedia’s “Protest Art” page as an example of activist art.