Our president brings out the best and worst in people, especially satirists. For the best, there is Jeff Gates, an artist, writer and graphic designer who was lead designer at the Smithsonian Institute from 1998 to 2018. He is the creator of the Chamomile Tea Party and creator of these posters.
The Chamomile Tea Party works towards a more effective dialogue about the future of America. Congress has become paralyzed by partisan politics. There has been so much rhetoric it has become almost impossible to get any important legislation passed. Gates has been remixing vintage propaganda posters with new text and altered imagery sending a message that we are hurting ourselves as a country and as a people. In addition, the posters are meant to be used by the electorate to aid in voicing their concerns.
Over 80 posters have been produced so far. Some appear in Jonathan Haidt‘s book The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided By Politics And Religion.2012).
Gates has been working at the intersection of art and culture for many years. He is a photographer, graphic designer, and writer. In the 1980s he founded ArtFBI (Artists for a Better Image) to study stereotypes of contemporary artists in our society. He has written about the effects of social media within traditional organizations and is the author of Uneventful: The Rise Of Photography (2013) about how technology and culture have fueled changes in the medium.
”As graphic designer, it’s gratifying to remix these posters from the early 20th century. I’m attracted to their designs and to the people who originally made them. But it’s more than that. The reasons they were made —to mold public opinion and to affect change during crises— gives meaning to these works beyond their layouts. How and why they were made also gives context to the period in which they were produced. So, in remaking these posters, the present, this period in our country’s history, is an important part of the work. And, with that how they are used, beyond being just interesting designs, is important.
These posters are meant to be used by citizens to reflect feelings we all have about the nature of the American political process at the beginning of the 21st century. Technology has opened new methods for communication and for propaganda both for the electorate and for those who wish to control and rule. And, yet, to be honest, I wondered if people would use them.”
Images courtesy of the Chamomile Tea Party. You can purchase the posters on the Chamomile Tea Party website.