From the Black Panthers and LGBTQ+ movement, to the Summer of Love and punk music, counterculture has long defined the Bay Area — and posters, buttons, zines and newspapers have always been a means for disseminating these progressive and dissenting ideologies. Protest art, from the Bay Area and beyond, is the focus of “Strikethrough! Typographic Messages of Protest,” a new exhibition at Letterform Archive, featuring over 100 pieces of design ephemera from the Archive’s collection, as well as loans from the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian and other institutions.

The exhibition extends as far back as an 1838 American Anti-Slavery Society broadsheet and as recently as protest posters screen-printed in the Bay Area in 2020. The breadth of communities and countries represented in the show reveals unrest as a global phenomenon, as well as an historical one, but a substantial amount of the work comes from the local movements of the ‘60s and ‘70s. That isn’t because the Archive focuses its collecting efforts locally, but is rather a testament to the extent of the Bay Area’s revolutionary political history.

Max Blue writes about the visual arts and modern culture for the San Francisco Examiner and other publications.

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