Let's hear your Voice! This discussion board is a place to Voice your feelings about the conference and, more importantly, to discuss how you will take that experience and transform it into action. Let's come together to inspire each other and make a difference.

Nathan Shedroff, San Francisco, CA, 15-Jun-02
What Israelis and Palestinians do or not is not the problem with the "Don't Say You Didn't Know" exhibit and to dwell on it misses the point. There can be no doubt that it was one-sided and emotional because it was meant to be. Ms. Bartelt’s statement that...

Sue Vessella, Woodbury University, Burbank, CA, 31-May-02
Sylvia Harris inspired me to examine examples of poor design in public
information contexts. While in Washington, I visited the Arlington National
Cemetery and discovered an informational brochure in need of design
attention. As a graphic design professor, I will task my students to
redesign the piece this fall. We'll send the new designs to Arlington and
who knows, perhaps Sylvia will have provoked a new look for a National
Thank you Sylvia for the inspiration.

Steven Heller, New York, 17-Apr-02
Dana is right. Human RIGHTS should be protected at all costs. No right-minded human being can look to the mideast wihtout being angered and saddened by the violence -- the murder on both sides. ON BOTH SIDES. This conflict started almost a century ago and...

(Re)Becca Rapp, Jefferson LA 70121, 16-Apr-02
Allowing their personal agendas to interfere with an exceptional and unprecedented exhibition addressing the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, Mr. Heller and his supporter turn their backs on the recurring violations of human rights in Palestine. I was a participant...

Dana Bartelt, New Orleans LA, 16-Apr-02
My final response to Steven Heller's and Judy Kirpich's accusations concerning the "Don't Say You Didn't Know " exhibition are: This is not a Jewish issue. The exhibition dealt with human rights violations. Israel chose to use a powerful religious icon representing...

Steven Heller, New York, 16-Apr-02
Roger Cook's justification for using the Star of David is reasoned, but what this once again proves is the power of charged symbols to ingnite emotion and prompt reaction. I too think it takes courage to present unpopular ideas in a public forum, but I continue...

Scott Gillam, Winnnipeg, MB Canada, 16-Apr-02
I would also like to express support for the posting of this exhibition, although not having attended the exhibit myself, many of the comments here have raised many valid points. Many editorials posted here have noted anti-Semitism and a definite slant towards...

Roger Cook, Washington Crossing, PA 18977, 14-Apr-02

I want to express my support to Dana Bartelt and her courage to post the exhibit "Don't say you didn't know."

I designed the poster of the American flag wrapped around the star of David that was in the exhibit. I used these symbols to express...

Steven Heller, New York City, 12-Apr-02
Ms. Bartelt says this exhibition is responsible activism, and in her lopsided presentation of the Palestinian issue it is indeed responsible to the Palestinian cause. And frankly, I accept this subjective position as being consistent with the history of propaganda...

Dana Bartelt, New Orleans, Louisiana, 11-Apr-02
In response to Steven Heller's reaction to the exhibition "Don't Say You Didn't Know" shown at the Voice AIGA National Conference, I am pleased that he found the exhibition itself of high quality and am also encouraged that he agrees that the exhibition "had...

Judy Kirpich, Grafik, Alexandria, VA, 11-Apr-02
Trying to follow up Steven Heller's eloquent reaction to the display for Palestinian posters is a tough act to follow. I have spent the last few weeks since the conference trying to get a coherent voice for my outrage and hurt, and attempting to understand why my reaction was so visceral. Since the conference I have had a long-time friend on the Palestinian side hurt by Israeli gunfire, and my sister-in-law and niece were injured in one of the Jerusalem bombings. Believe me when I say that this conflict is personal.

I believe that one of the main purposes of the Voice conference was to awaken our community to important issues where we can have an effect. The educational value and emotional content made this one of the very best conferences that I have ever attended, and indeed I felt completely emotionally drained by the amazing sessions on Friday morning. Taking a break between sessions. like many others I decided to look at the exhibit hall to see the work that is being done on various issues from ballot design to posters from Cuba. Walking to the back of the hall I was stunned to see the poster display on the Israeli/Palestinian issue.

As an American Jew, who actually leans a bit to the left with regards to the Israeli- Palestinian conflict, I felt nothing short of hurt and stunned. It has been a very long time since I have seen anti-semiticism cloaked in a veil of "political education"- terms one of the curators used described her exhibit. Like Steven, I believe in the right to show and talk about controversial issues and certainly one of the purposes of the conference dealt with our responsibility as designers and human beings to be involved in important political issues.

While a few of the posters were thought-provoking ( and well designed) - many of the posters were downright hostile, not only to the Israeli position, but also to the American Jewish Community, i.e. Jewish stars wrapped in American flags or inflammatory references to the Holocaust. I would not have had any hesitations whatsoever if the exhibit had shown a balanced approach to an extremely complex complicated problem, and while I do not expect the curators to take a " Polly-Anne-ish" approach to the carnage in the Middle East, I do expect that a show mounted at our national convention would have taken the time to illuminate both sides of the situation.

As the wife of a Middle East analyst who is fluent in 6 dialects of Arabic, Turkish and Hebrew, I have hosted Palestinian and Israeli scholars over the years and been privledged to listen to all sides of the argument. I have learned that there are good people and fanatics on both sides of the fence and there is no easy solution. Why highlight the problems with only one side? Incindiary messages achieve only one goal- to push the two sides farther apart. I had hoped that the curators had a higher purpose.

Judy Kirpich

Tom Semmes, Bethesda, MD, 08-Apr-02
It seems to me that the material presented at Voice was so rich and challenging to absorb that it would make sense to have regional conferences where people can meet to discuss how to use this material and find out what designers are doing locally. Has there...

Steven Heller, New York, NY, 02-Apr-02
Responsibility and Propaganda
For the better part of my professional life I've supported the active participation of designers in political affairs. The designer's ability to create mnemonic images in the service of social critique is a right and responsibility. And the free exchange of messages is paramount in this process. Which is why I was happy to see a room at the AIGA National Conference in Washington, D.C., dedicated to exhibitions on various socio-political themes. Yet despite my professed openness, I nonetheless found myself enraged by one of those exhibits. A group of posters in support of the Palestinian cause took me by surprise, not because the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is a taboo subject for designers, but because at this time when the suicide attacks are mounting, and Israeli military response is escalating, and people are dying, I think inflammatory visual messages are ill-conceived and destructive. The exhibition on view during the AIGA conference organized by Dana Bartels and contributed to by various American designers had every right to be mounted but was unfair in its lopsided attack on the Israeli position. Over the years I have seen exhibitions addressing the political tinderbox and human tragedy that is the Middle East, but most have addressed peace as a goal. In fact, both Palestinian and Israeli designers have contributed missives in the pursuit of a fair and equitable settlement. This was NOT that kind of exhibit. The graphic criticism levied on Israeli policies ignored any semblance of Palestinian complicity and provocation. One poster addressing the mind of a suicide bomber was actually an overt justification for such terrorist acts. Another showing the Jewish star wrapped in an American flag suggests the old canard that Jews run America and America is in the grip of Jewish influence. The posters were quite professional and unambiguous, a combination that is good under most circumstances. But in this case the code of sophisticated design is a biased and simplistic attack that pretends to be authoritative. Of course, good propaganda will inflame passions and will anger one side while giving succor to the other. The problem with these posters at this dangerous moment in Israeli/Palestinian history is that succor is given to those who are exacerbating the tensions. Why not posters that decry the suicide bomber, not justify his idiocy? Why not posters that say America is trying to broker peace, rather than restate the racist epithet that the U.S. is in the pockets of the Jews? How about propaganda that is responsible? Steve Heller

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