All Power To Emory Douglas
Per our class discussion at Parsons School of Design about the use of power symbols, and the various ideas exemplified in Steven Heller & Véronique Vienne’s 100 Ideas That Changed Graphic Design, there was a lot to be desired as there wasn’t any mention of artists or designers of color. Their leadership and contributions to many historic art movements around the globe should be celebrated and not ignored.
Meet Emory Douglas, a revolutionary artist.
As Minister of Culture, Douglas’s work propelled the Black Panther movement of the late 1960’s and 1970’s. Working with revolutionaries, Huey P. Newton, Kathleen Cleaver, and Bobby Seale, the Black liberation movement gained greater mass appeal by communicating political messages in pictorial form.
In 1967, the twenty-two-year-old Douglas joined the Panther party seeking to improve and develop the organizations’ image through the Black Panther, the community newspaper. Understanding the importance of media culture, it advanced the movement from its roots in Oakland, California to communities across America and internationally.
The visual identity of the movement can be attributed to Emory’s work. Utilizing various methods such as, illustration, pen and ink line drawing, photo collage, Indian inking, hand-drawn typography, and more, the messages he conveyed were blatant, visual interpretations of the people’s struggle.
Bold lines, intelligent use of color, cartoon abstract figuration of the dominating female archetype and powerful black men were apart of his graphic style. His work was emotive and fearless, despite being stalked by COINTELPRO.
According to Douglas, art should be a collective experience. Just as others inspired him, others have been inspired by his work. Various revolutionary organizations in Vietnam, Cuba, and Algeria mimicked his style in their own propaganda material, demonstrating his great influence.
As his work declares, all power to the people.
Source: Black Panther: The Revolutionary Art of Emory Douglas, edited by Sam Durant
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Where art is food.
Where art is food.