Puerto Rican Poster Exhibit on Campus

Thirty silk-screen posters from Puerto Rico, selected from the personal collection of Jack and Irene Delano, are on display at the Widener Gallery. The posters, which date from the 1940s through the 1990s, drew an enthusiastic crowd of art lovers for the exhibit’s November 5th opening. The Delanos are pioneers in the fields of graphic arts, photography, and film in Puerto Rico. 

  photo from Puerto Rican Poster exhibit

Visitors to the Widener Gallery enjoy the Puerto Rican poster exhibit organized
by Associate Professor of Fine Arts Pablo Delano. 

Beginning more than 50 years ago, Puerto Rico’s Department of Education hired a group of young artists to create posters designed to address the island’s civic, health, and social issues. Many of the earliest examples depict practical messages urging island residents to eat nourishing food, boil drinking water, and have their children inoculated against disease. As Puerto Rico’s socio-economic circumstances improved, the popular poster campaign expanded to encompass a greater variety of themes that included publicizing political and cultural events, encouraging citizens to work together, and honoring local customs and history in an effort to develop national pride.

Because money was especially tight during the early years of the campaign, Irene Delano, the first director of the government’s poster workshop, chose to use the silk-screen printing process, or serigraphy, instead of the more conventional but costly and complex offset process. This resulted in colorful and durable posters that also helped to create jobs, since the posters were hand-printed in very large volume. Many of the original designers went on to become the island’s most famous artists, including Rafael Tufiño, Lorenzo Homar, and Antonio Martorell. As a result, the posters have become valuable collectors’ items.  Associate Professor of Fine Arts Pablo Delano, son of Jack and Irene Delano, organized the exhibit, which runs through December 9.         


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