Do you have an affinity for vintage travel posters, the bold, graphic kind with silhouetted palm trees and snow capped mountains? Do you enjoy national parks and monuments? I know I do. So it’s a pleasant surprise to discover the Creative Action Network’s (CAN) See America crowdsourced art campaign.
Original See America posters from the New Deal arts project of the 1930’s. Montage credit: The Creative Action Network
The New Deal’s Works Progress Administration (WPA) of the 1930s, formed under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, was created to lift America out of the Great Depression and get people working. “FDR also strove to raise the nation’s battered pride and spirit. One way to do that was to celebrate the country’s stunning natural wonders—and encourage Americans to visit them,” said Director of the FDR Presidential Library Lynn Bassanese. WPA artists were employed in this campaign, creating stunning posters that promoted America’s natural beauty, including monuments and national parks.
Now, more than 75 years later, and on the verge of the 2016 centennial anniversary of the National Park Service, CAN has partnered with the National Parks Conservation Association to launch a new version of See America to create a second stunning set of posters for a new generation.
To date 180+ artists from all 50 states have submitted 600+ designs. The posters showcase historic, natural and cultural sites across the U.S., which encourage Americans to reconnect with these places and to explore our shared history. Check out the current top 10 selling prints:
“With today’s digital tools, individual artists have the power to create and share their work like never before,” said Max Slavkin, cofounder and CEO of CAN. “That’s why now is the time to pick up where the New Deal left off, and harness America’s creative energy in celebrating the beauty and importance of our natural and cultural landmarks.”
One example of a group of artists approaching this challenge is Daniel Gross’s package design class at the Art Institute of California, Orange County. Gross had each student pick a national park they related to, either through a previous visit or a desire to visit in the future, then research and showcase the park’s uniqueness and history. As Gross puts it: “One visit to a national park can make anyone a believer in designing and living in a more sustainable way.” Check out the class's submissions:
You can contribute your own artwork of your favorite park or natural landmark. See America is not a contest. It is a campaign to showcase America’s beautiful, precious sites. Submissions that meet all guidelines will be displayed and made available for purchase as prints, mugs, greeting cards and tote bags.
Looking for a little inspiration for your See America artwork? Consider these words of President Roosevelt:
There is nothing so American as our national parks. The scenery and wild life are native. The fundamental idea behind the parks is native. It is, in brief, that the country belongs to the people ...The parks stand as the outward symbol of this great human principle.
This new rendition of See America will be on display through this month at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park, NY, with additional exhibitions anticipated across the country.
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