By Shelby Otto
The Marlin and Regina Miller Gallery in the Sharadin Arts Building at KU opened its first exhibition of the fall semester on Sept. 13. The show, “The National Poster Retrospecticus,” is an international traveling exhibition and features artwork from over 150 artists. Curated by John P. Boilard,
producer and designer of the “NPR,” the new exhibit blends diverse visual topics.
The “NPR” features a vibrant collection of posters speaking to topics like music, sports and nature. According to Karen Stanford, the Miller Gallery’s director, one of the main purposes of the exhibition aims to “draw attention to the process of silk-screen/hand pulled posters.” The posters themselves serve various purposes, whether promotionally or aesthetically.
In comparison to past shows at KU, this exhibition speaks to a broad audience through its visual accessibility. One of the biggest issues in the arts community seems to be the way artwork is understood. An exhibition like this, touching on topics that many people are interested in, like baseball, “Rocky” or musical artists, allows for a better social reception.
Art mediums, such as painting, photography or sculpture, have a tendency for ambiguity or abstraction, which may leave the viewer perplexed. However, posters are straightforward because it is a much more familiar art form. Even in an art gallery, these posters remain comprehensible and enjoyable because what forms the basis of the show is communication.
One of the most eye-catching sections of the show is the group of national parks posters. While attending the reception, viewers flocked to this section. These posters play an especially important role in the show because nature is an extremely common topic. People spend an extensive amount of time outside, making these posters highly relatable.
A project specifically depicting scenery from the United States national parks, graphic design becomes a center for not only the arts community, but also for those interested in things ranging from nature conservation to travel and wildlife.
Additionally, the inclusion of works involving movies or sports, like the “Jurassic Park” poster or the “Rocky Balboa” poster reference concepts that are often much more familiar than topics that arise in more traditional artistic mediums. With a collection of posters including these and more, the “National Poster Retrospecticus” encourages an exploration of art through pop-culture.
The exhibition will remain up and open to the public through Nov. 16, 2018, and gallery hours can be found on The Marlin and Regina Miller Gallery website.