Abstract

The 1940s were a visual cultural renaissance for an ascendant Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO). But since the ecology of the “white cube” was unsuitable terrain for the advocacy of working-class solidarity and integration, many artists turned to social spaces, media, and means of production and distribution beyond the conventional art world to engage a working-class audience on its own cultural turf. Compounding the challenge of addressing a blue-collar constituency, the CIO also needed to find ways to cater to union memberships with unprecedented minority membership. Selectively focusing on graphic literature produced for industrial unions in the West Coast maritime sector, this essay demonstrates how, for a brief time, artists and labor leaders collaborated to create a pluralistic visual culture exceptional for the period. This work and its brethren distinguished themselves from other, more assimilationist visions of multiracial communities in which minorities accommodate to dominant culture or serve as token symbols of racial inclusivity.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1080-6490
Print ISSN
0003-0678
Pages
pp. 883-917
Launched on MUSE
2014-12-15
Open Access
No
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