After thirty years of speaking art to power, the Northland Poster Collective will close its doors for the last time at the end of June. Founded in 1979 by activist artists, Northland has become an important source for art, slogans and cultural organizing experience for unions, grassroots activists and social justice movements. Much of their considerable artistic output was developed in close relationship with those movements. The materials produced by Northland covered a spectrum from silkscreened posters and note cards to buttons, bumper stickers, t-shirts and other organizing tools and raged from politically inspired quotes and poems to depictions of labor history and organizing slogans created for specific campaigns.
Part activist organization, part business and part arts group, the Collective was a union shop and remained committed to democratic self-management until the end. Northland workshops with titles like “Give the Boss an Art Attack,” and “Creative Organizing” were fixtures at union conventions. Its slogans have been a frequent sight on picket lines for the past three decades. In fact Northland coined or popularized such slogans as ‘The Labor Movement: The Folks That Brought You the Weekend,’ ‘Friends Don’t Let Friends Cross Picket Lines,’ ‘Unions: the Anti-Theft Device for Working People,’ among many others.
About their decision to close, founding member, artist Ricardo Levins Morales noted wryly, “After thirty years of undermining Wall Street, it finally fell on us.” Some of the services provided by Northland, such as union-made buttons, union T-shirt printing and graphic design will continue as spin-off businesses. Levins Morales will open his own studio in Minneapolis.
During the month of June the Collective will sell all remaining inventory at half price through their web store at www.northlandposter.com and at their Minneapolis shop.
Ricardo Levins Morales
Northland Poster Collective
PO Box 7096
Minneapolis, MN 55407