Poster Work: Graphic Visualization, Collaboration, and the Rural Electrification Administration
GRANTEEMichael J. Golec
4 West Burton Place
Chicago, Illinois 60610
Poster Work: Graphic Visualization, Collaboration, and the Rural Electrification Administration (REA) examines three series of posters created for the REA in 1937, 1939, and 1941, and their contribution to rural reform in the United States. The project describes circumstances where posters took their place amongst humans as agents of economic and social change during the Great Depression. Specifically, it argues that the posters electrified the countryside and generated income for the US government. As components of a large scale, heterogeneous system, the REA posters worked over six years in collaboration with REA agents, other governmental agencies, cultural institutions, appliance manufacturers, and advertisers. The results of these alliances were threefold. The posters promoted consumption of electrical appliances and electricity; contributed to the repayment of government loans; and worked to reinforce reform agendas across multiple government agencies and nongovernment business organizations and interest groups.
Michael J. Golec is associate professor of design history at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He is the author of Brillo Box Archive: Aesthetics, Design, and Art (2008) and coeditor and contributor to Relearning from Las Vegas (2009). He has published on design history in the Journal of Design History, Design Issues, Design and Culture, Home Cultures, and American Quarterly, among others. He has recently published chapters in Global Design History (2011), Visual Rhetoric and the Eloquence of Design (2011), and The Educated Eye: Visual Culture and Pedagogy in the Life Sciences (2012). In the spring of 2011, he was the Anschutz Distinguished Fellow in American Studies at Princeton University, where he began research for this project.
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