During a now-infamous confrontation at U.C. Davis last November, a police officer delivered a powerful dose of pepper spray to student Occupy protesters seated with heads bowed and arms linked. The event created a flash flood of viral videos and Internet memes. Marshall Strother, a student at the Washington University School of Medicine, was watching too, and the event became the inspiration for his winning entry in the GOOD + Occupy Design Challenge on GOOD Maker.
Strother says he felt compelled to create an image that would unite protesters on the ground and, in his words, “remind both civilians and public officials that their actions, heroic or shameful, will be witnessed.” He hopes that when people see his graphic posted in public places, they will recognize its message as an incentive to act justly. Occupy Design, which provides Occupiers around the world with open-source visual tools, printed Strother’s design as a poster, banner and sticker (available here). Jake Levitas, a designer and activist on the organization’s founding team, says that “photos of his work displayed on the streets are some of the most popular we’ve ever posted, and they really showcase the vision we’ve been working toward.”
Though occupations and mass mobilizations have waned since last fall, many of the collaborative projects that owe their beginnings to the Occupy movement have grown more robust. For Occupy Design, says Levitas, “the focus has shifted to creating designs that maintain a strong visual presence in the absence of tents and local encampments.” This includes making available more tools like stencils, t-shirts, and signage. As it has adapted to changes in the Occupy landscape, the organization has proven a true catalyst, supporting and amplifying the voices of similar efforts such as Art is My Occupation and Occupy Our Food Supply. “Our major goal is to work in coalition with several other art groups to make sure that thought-provoking design projects are a major part of the spring resurgence that all the Occupy groups are anticipating,” says co-founder Martha Petit.
To learn more about Occupy Design or submit your own movement-minded graphic to their database visit occupydesign.org.
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