Prized Puerto Rican posters on display
Exhibit highlights educational and cultural campaign
Posters created by some of Puerto Rico’s most celebrated graphic artists as part of a campaign to educate and to foster a sense of pride among the island’s citizens will be on display at California Lutheran University.
“Art in Service of the People: Puerto Rico’s DIVEDCO Poster Art” will be on exhibit from Thursday, Nov. 10, through Thursday, Jan. 12, in the Kwan Fong Gallery of Art and Culture on the Thousand Oaks campus.
In 1948, the United States Congress granted the people of Puerto Rico the right to elect their own governor. Luis Muñoz Marín, a poet and journalist, became the island’s first democratically elected governor. He worked throughout his 16-year administration to improve living conditions on the island, especially for the semi-literate majority who lived in the rural interior.
One of Marin’s first projects was the formation of the Division of Community Education, or DIVEDCO. The main purpose of DIVEDCO, which operated for 40 years, was to bring together prominent local artists, authors, composers and filmmakers to produce films, posters and booklets to educate people about health, public safety, democracy, literacy and civic participation. The project also emphasized the importance of preserving Puerto Rican cultural values and traditions that had been disappearing since the U.S. took control of the island in 1898. Many of the DIVEDCO materials featured rural backgrounds or situations with which the Puerto Rican peasants could identify.
The posters are DIVEDCO’s most widely recognized and valued products, and they are prized commodities among collectors of Puerto Rican, Caribbean and Latin American art. This exhibit features posters that were produced by artists including Rafael Delgado Castro, José Meléndez Contreras, Eduardo Vera Cortés, Lorenzo Homar, Antonio Maldonado, Carlos Raquel Rivera and Rafael Tufiño.
Many of the posters promoted public film screenings. They were plastered to walls, posts and trees strategically located in even the remotest corners of each community. They had to be striking and attractive and capture peasants’ attention with a visual summary of the main themes of the films, some of which won awards at international film festivals.
The private collections of Thomas F. Anderson and Marisel C. Moreno loaned the art featured in the exhibit.
Admission is free. The gallery is located in Soiland Humanities Center. It is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For more information, contact curator Rachel T. Schmid at 805-493-3697 or visit CalLutheran.edu/kwanfong.