I’d like to take a moment this labor day to remember the Northland Poster Collective. This small, Minneapolis-based collective of artists, founded in 1979, put out 30 years of creative, useful art for progressive and radical movements, including the labor movement. They came up with one of my favorite slogans for labor: The Labor Movement: The Folks Who Brought You the Weekend.
The organization unfortunately closed in 2009, amidst the financial meltdown. But their posters and slogans continue to show up on walls, cars, and lapels across the country. One of the artists, Ricardo Levins Morales, continues this work through his studio, RLM Arts.
On Northland’s “legacy website,” the organization, signing off after 30 years, offers these thoughtful words for the left, which relate very much to the importance of exploring the cultural side of organizing:
There’s a bigger story that is worth noting that has to do with the way the cultural struggle for a better world is carried out. In short, the right wing is very aware that political power grows out of people’s beliefs and hopes and dreams and they support their cultural warriors unstintingly. Our side thinks in terms of “issue campaigns” and leaves its cultural workers to work second jobs or take out mortgages to support their projects. We may wish to rethink this strategy.