Queens College Looks Back at Vietnam
By Joe Marvilli
As Queens College celebrates its 75th Anniversary, the school is looking back at one of the most tumultuous times in America’s history. The campus museum is displaying an exhibit covering the Vietnam War era with both protest posters and photos from the 1960s and 1970s.
“Posters as History, Politics and Art: Teaching with Primary Sources” is currently running at the Godwin-Ternbach Museum, having opened on Nov. 12 and lasting until Dec. 21. The museum, located in Klapper Hall, features posters donated by alumni active in student organizations, rallies and more on and off campus during that time period.
On the ground floor, dozens of anti-Vietnam posters are spread out along the walls, running the gamut of bleak, inspirational and satirical. Thrown in are a few Occupy Wall Street posters, connecting today’s struggle for economic justice with the demonstrations against the unpopular war.
On the upper level, photos and newspaper clips of Queens College from the era show the protest movement in full swing. They are complimented by a few posters from the Russian Revolution. As a result, the Vietnam exhibit relates itself to protests further in the past and protests in the present.
The exhibit was organized by Curator Amy Winter, QC political science professor Michael Krasner, secondary education professor Jack Zevin and Townsend Harris Assistant Principal Susan Getting. The group decided to involve Townsend Harris High School, choosing 300 social studies students to study and interpret the posters. The texts they wrote accompany the displays, which show how the works affected them and how they relate to today.
Getting students involved helped to further the main message of the exhibit, which is to fight against what you feel is unjust.
“As informed citizens, we can make informed decisions,” Winter said. “To be patriotic is to protest that which we feel is not correct. Democracy’s messy but you have to do this to guarantee liberty.”
The exhibit will be enhanced by several events taking place during its run.
The opening reception will take place on Nov. 15 from 6 to 8 p.m. It will be hosted by Mark Levy and Wally Rosenthal, two people who donated to the exhibit. Illustrator Mark Podwal will be on hand to discuss his career as well as the creation, context, and motivation for his posters, which are exhibited.
Later in the month, the Godwin-Ternbach Museum will hold an Educators’ Evening on Nov. 28 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
In addition, a movie series will be held on Mondays from 12:15 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. during the period of the exhibit’s run. The films will range from serious works like “The Killing Fields” to more humorous fare like “Tropic Thunder.”
Reach Reporter Joe Marvilli at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.