Why were you interested in political posters?
It took a poster just a moment to transform me from indifferent to obsess. In graduate school at UCLA, I studied medieval art history under O.K. Werckmeister – who now lives in Berlin – and learned that all art is political. For 13 years I taught at California State University Fullerton about the art of the rich and powerful. As an activist I attended demonstrations protesting the policies of the rich and powerful. These two dimensions of my life never merged until 1981, when I visited Nicaragua to document and collect the art of the Sandinista revolution.
Which is your favorite poster?
I’m always amazed at the ability of artists to take complex ideas and express them in powerful designs. My favorite poster is the one that changed my life in Nicaragua. Objectively, it is not a great poster. I watched a child of 8 or 9 suddenly encountering a poster. He stared at the image and text trying to understand the meaning. At that moment I had an epiphany about how posters work. People go about their daily lives and suddenly see something unexpected. A poster grabs their attention though its color and/or bold graphic, and prompts a closer consideration. The poster challenges the viewer or makes them ask a question. At that moment, from being indifferent, I became obsessed with collecting posters.