Power of a poster

Artist promotes awareness of the inequality women face

Kendra Huber/ Journal Contributor

Kendra Huber/ Journal Contributor

If it’s true a picture is worth a thousand words, then a political poster can speak volumes for the oppressed and silenced. One image, creatively presented, has the power to change the perception of the viewer, enabling them to understand an idea or a situation from a new perspective. To test this theory, take a trip to Boston City Hall where Stephen Lewis’ current exhibit is displayed: “The Struggle for Women’s Equality: An International Poster Exhibit.”

The social justice topics these posters highlight cover a range of issues from sexual harassment to equal job opportunities and equal pay. Lewis created this exhibit and others to help inspire and educate the people around him.

“I am a feminist,” Lewis said in a recent phone interview with The Suffolk Journal, “I am simply trying to inspire others with this movement.”

Lewis, a union leader and activist who has been producing these vibrant poster exhibits for 12 years, continued to speak volumes about domestic violence and how it speaks to the fact that some men can look at women like property.

As someone who has covered a multitude of human rights concerns in his work, he owns more than 4,000 posters from around the world highlighting topics such as workers struggles, Green Politics, Occupy Wallstreet, the Peace Dove, Bread and Roses and Anti-Apartheid. His exhibits take place in public spaces so that any and all audiences can view his work. He told The Journal that he does this on purpose so that crowds that normally wouldn’t go out of their way to look at his political posters are almost forced to stumble upon them and experience what they are trying to convey. Lewis describes this public art forum as, “Taking the art out to the people, as opposed to people coming to the art.”

Creating a public display by bringing the art to the people aligns perfectly with the general use of posters, for it amplifies the issue by providing a creative way to communicate these crucial messages. Afterall, it’s important to remember that these posters were apart of planned protests or campaigns where they effectively deepen the issue, belief or desired outcome.

The City Hall exhibit on Women’s Equality has approximately 25 works on display from around the world. They honor women who have provided hope for millions, like Burmese activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi, as well as unidentified female workers fighting for fair wages and civil rights activists marching for racial justice.

While there is still much we all need to do, as Lewis explained to The Journal, to eradicate the inequity of salaries between men and women, to end human trafficking and domestic violence, and to ensure young women across the globe have access to education. This exhibit stands as a reminder of how far we’ve come, thanks to millions of dedicated women who’ve carried posters and protested to get us here.

This exhibit at City Hall will continue to run until Oct. 14. To view more of Lewis’ work, his Facebook page is open to the public as Labor/Progressive Political Posters.