The ‘medicinal art’ of Ricardo Levins Morales

I’ve been wanting to round out my mid-week “Social Justice February” posts with art–and I’ve found the perfect “poster man” for the topic. He is Ricardo Levins Morales. You may find that you recognize his work, but even if you don’t I hope you enjoy it.

Trayvon Martin-Ella Baker
I had seen this image before, but never knew who the artist was.

Posters have a long history in art. They haven’t always been appreciated for the art form they are, of course–Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, for example was scorned by other artists for his commercialism when he created what are now considered iconic images. And Alphonse Mucha tried to distance himself, later in life, from the Art Nouveau style he helped create with his marvelous posters.

Budget Priorities speaks to the school-to-prison pipeline.

Ricardo Levins Morales, by contrast, has embraced the art of the poster-style image in his own unique way. The artist/activist has turned it into what he calls “medicinal art.” What does that mean?

History’s Perspective offers hope in an unjust world.

“when I work with any community I start with a diagnosis,” he explains in his online biography. “I ask what it is that keeps this group of people from knowing their power and acting on it. Not what has been done to them but wounds, fears or ways of thought keep folks immobilized.”

We Are the Mainstream

His work embraces social justice, the environment, empowerment for a variety of minority groups, and labor issues. I’ve collected a “mini-gallery” of some of my favorites here, but you can see many, many more wonderful pieces at his Ricardo Levins Morales Art Studio website.

Environmental Justice

IMAGES: Many thanks to the Ricardo Levins Morales Art Studio for all of the images shown in this post. I’ve linked each back to a page where you can purchase the image if you wish. Many are available in at least two formats.

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jansgephardt

Kansas City-based Jan S. Gephardt is a writer, artist, and teacher. She makes nationally-recognized paper sculpture and writes sf mystery novels about a sapient police dog.

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