Martin Luther King poster


Martin Luther King
Christmas Sermon on Peace, 1967
An offset lithograph poster, 30” x 20”
Copyright John August Swanson, 2013

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Artist’s Notes

I approached my MARTIN LUTHER KING poster with the intent to create a new artwork in my Exploding Newspaper style, used previously in BIG HUNGRY EYE (1971), LET US NOW PRAISE FAMOUS MEN (1972), STRUGGLE FOR JUSTICE (1972; re-issued in 2011), and SEEDS OF BROTHERHOOD (1973; re-issued in 2012). In these works, I used a variety of typefaces from alphabets I hand-carved from rubber erasers, while taking Sister Corita Kent’s class at Immaculate Heart College in 1968.

My earlier posters were planned around, and mainly used, photographs, which were interspersed with song lyrics and quoted text. For this work, I chose to use my own drawings. These details have been taken from the paintings, prints, and sketches I have completed over a wide spectrum of my work. The scenes depict people engaged in their daily lives, and form my own visual commentary on Dr. Martin Luther King’s marvelous text. However, within the artwork, there is still a photo of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It was taken in a jail cell at the Jefferson County Courthouse in Birmingham, Alabama, October, 1967.

The poster’s text is drawn from Dr. King’s 1967 Christmas Sermon on Peace, delivered at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation aired the sermon as a part of their distinguished authorities and contemporary interest program, the Massey Lecture series. Dr. King’s affirmation of our universal connection to one another, our inextricable interdependence, moved me. It is still a contemporary, powerful, and relevant message, as we continue learning how to live together, how to work together, and how to peacefully coexist.