“Design of Dissent” in The Milton Glaser Archives
October 10, 2018 by Emma Drew
John Creson and Monica Shlaug's "I'mmoral" poster.
<p "="">A photograph of a woman's bare back with the phrase "I'mmoral" written on it.
John Creson and Monica Shlaug, I’mmoral, 2004. Via archives.sva.edu.

The Milton Glaser Design Study Center and Archives and the SVA Archives, the two archival collections housed within the SVA Library, have recently launched their new website, archives.sva.edu. Visitors can now learn more about and view selections from both archives′ collections, schedule appointments to visit the archives in person, and more. (You can also keep up with highlights from the archives on Instagram, @glaserarchives.) We thought this occasion a good opportunity to look back at an article on one of the Glaser Archives′ collections, from the spring 2018 issue of the Visual Arts Journal.

Conveying the fervor and fire of political activism, nearly 250 items from Syria, Slovenia, the United States and beyond make up the Design of Dissent Collection in the Milton Glaser Design Study Center and Archives. An ever-growing assortment of posters, postcards, books and pamphlets, the Design of Dissent Collection began as a book of the same name, put together in 2005 by designers and SVA faculty Mirko Ilić and Milton Glaser (Glaser is also SVA’s acting chairman of the board). The book’s content cut across countries, generations and issues, examining graphic responses to the constraints of government and pressing social concerns, and included images that addressed topics as varied as the Iraq War, environmental degradation, fallout from communist regimes and corporate media control. Ilić had collected hard copies of the works, most of them posters, from contributors; these were mounted as an exhibition at the College that year, then donated to the Glaser Archives.

<p "="">A poster featuring graphic renderings of various animals, using the colors and iconography of the American flag.

Thomas Porostocky, We Need More Party Animals, 2004. Via archives.sva.edu.

Fast forward to 2017 and many things had changed, not the least of which was the occupant of the White House, and Ilić and Glaser decided that the protests of the intervening years merited preservation, too. Last September, The Design of Dissent was reissued by Rockport Publishers, with more than 160 additional submissions documenting everything from the Arab Spring to the 2017 women’s marches. Ilić and Glaser curated a new exhibition of selected work, this time in the Netherlands, and nearly 100 new pieces joined the archives′ collection.

<p "="">A red screen print featuring the image of a chair in the foreground and a family in the background, with the phrase "Take a Seat" in white block letters.

Hadas Zohar, Take a Seat, 2016. Via archives.sva.edu.

“From a design perspective, they’re fascinating—a global view of what’s going on,” says Beth Kleber, head archivist for both SVA and the Glaser Archives. With the breadth of topical matters covered and number of designers included, the Design of Dissent Collection offers a chance to see something that is not ordinarily available: a bigger picture.

“It’s a record of time,” Ilić says. “One day someone who wants to study political activism in design will come here to do so.” Kleber has already noticed an uptick in faculty bringing their classes to study the work. “It’s filling a real renewed interest,” she says. “It’s energizing for students in their own practice, seeing the events they’ve lived through.”