To celebrate the AIGA Centennial, AIGA Medalists and AIGA Fellows were asked to select a year from AIGA’s history and create a social, political or cultural statement. San Diego’s own Candice Lopez was invited to participate and chose the year 1921. You can see designs representing all 100 years from 1914 to 2014 right here. In this guest post, Candice shares her thoughts behind her design here.
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Professor Candice López, AIGA Fellow San Diego City College Graphic Design
I’ve been passionate about teaching at San Diego City College for 24 years. I’ve always believed that the community college is the open door for minorities and immigrants who come to our country. For this reason I have dedicated my teaching to the struggle for economic and social justice. I’m proud that many of the City students who have won past AIGA portfolio reviews are immigrants and believe it is imperative to get diverse voices, visions and viewpoints into the profession of graphic design. You can see a great example from this year. This is essential to genuinely mirror the changing population of our nation and keep the design profession relevant and dynamic.
As a young design student in the community college I was greatly impacted by the moving work of Lithuanian-born American artist Ben Shahn and his social-realist vision. His work was all about communication and his themes included organized labor, immigration and injustice during the global depression. He was also a muralist and my husband Rafael and I are still quite active in the creation of murals around the San Diego and in other U.S. cities. We always want to involve the local community, especially children in the art-making. We are interested in making art with people in underserved neighborhoods. (See urbanarttrail.com.)
Shahn created a mural called “The passion of Sacco and Vanzetti”. In 1921 these two Italian immigrants were believed to be victims of social and political prejudice and claimed to be unjustly accused of a crime they didn’t commit. Their trial was very controversial and attracted enormous international attention. Well known Americans like American author Upton Sinclair sided with Sacco and Vanzetti but they were executed despite mass protests in New York, London, Amsterdam, Tokyo, South America, Geneva, Germany, Paris and Johannesburg.
When I was invited by AIGA to create a piece with a social, political or cultural statement I was motivated to choose 1921 and highlight this trial. I hoped to bring awareness to this historical event and used a photo I shot of a wall in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico where we have a home. The paint splattered on the wall reminded me of blood and an angel who holds up one wing to shelter the innocent. I combined that with a period font and the headline for a newspaper from 1921. Immigrant issues continue to impact our country and I want my teaching and work to give visual voice to those who may not always be heard.
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