The Fist is Still Raised

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44_It can't happen here-1937-WPA.tif
A poster for Sinclair Lewis’s play “It can't happen here” shows three officers with raised fists, and a fist raised toward them, ostensibly the viewer’s. It was printed in 1937 as an advertisement for the Federal Theatre Project presentation…

Fists evident in the WPA/FAP archives are not only connotative of holding tools and showing labor power in a strike, but also conjure the fist of justice held up but the Statue of Liberty – certainly not an oppositional image.

In a poster advertising Craft School at the Henry Street Settlement, the fist holding the hammer and the paintbrushes below are aesthetically quite similar to the Artists Union symbol developed a few years earlier.

The poster “Civil Liberties in War Times,” was made in 1940 by WPA artist Christopher DeNoon for a lecture by Max Werner, then editor of The Nation . The poster shows “an armored gauntlet clenched in a fist,” suggesting power controlled by…
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