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Milwaukee Marshall students taking part in Gallery Night with exhibition at the War Memorial

GMilwaukee Marshall War Show Imageraphic design students from Milwaukee Marshall High School chose topics that mattered to them or people they know to create 50 posters on the theme of “The War I’m Fighting” to display at the Milwaukee County War Memorial Center for Gallery Night

The posters are done in the style of government posters issued during World War I and World War II.   

Some of the students are attending the opening reception for their show from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. Friday, January 19, 2024. The reception and exhibition are open to the public.  

The Marshall exhibition, which hangs alongside the Center’s extensive collection of restored World War I and World War II posters, continues through Sunday, January 28. An artist’s statement accompanies each poster. 

The collaborative exhibition is on the 3rd and 4th floors of the Milwaukee County War Memorial Center, 750 N. Lincoln Memorial Drive., Milwaukee. In addition to Friday evening, it’s open from 8:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. daily.  

For her poster, Londya Bourgeois, a junior at Marshall, focused on navigating romantic relationships.   

“It’s not the main thing, but it’s something that teenagers go through” as part of high school, she said. The image was of her and her boyfriend, imposed on a gradient blue background. “To stay together, you have to love each other,” her poster says. 

Tahji Johnson, a Marshall senior, had no idea what her topic would be until she spotted a satirical presidential poster in her citizenship class. “This is absolutely perfect. I need to do this for my war poster project,” she thought. 

She decided to poke fun at the quality of candidates by placing a comically large top hat and googly eyes on her image, she said. A grainy filter made it look vintage, and the colors she used — red, yellowed-with-age white, and blue — reinforced the theme.  

Students learned about concepts behind the WWI and WWII posters through the Milwaukee War Memorial Center's lesson "War Posters: Weapons on the Wall."  Students studied how propaganda was used in posters to influence people, events, and politics during WWI and WWII, said Marshall graphic design teacher Gretchen Brenegan. 

“There actually are tons of lessons that are pretty cool on their website for educators to use,” Brenegan said of the War Memorial Center.  

Steve Vande Zande, arts integration support teacher, got the project rolling, working with Sean Clark, the War Memorial’s education director and a former MPS educator.  

Brenegan’s students from three upper-level graphic design classes, which have dual enrollment with Milwaukee Area Technical College, and her advanced-level design class took part in the project. (The advanced-level class works with teachers as if they were clients, putting together posters for school, the yearbook, and more.) 

Students from the four classes worked with Clark, taking part in the lesson he prepared and going on a field trip to the War Memorial Center to view the historical posters. The students brainstormed and sketched out their ideas before creating their posters with images they took; then, they edited and manipulated the images in Photoshop.  

Once completed, the Marshall students’ artworks, which measure 3 feet by 4 feet, were printed by MPS Duplicating Services on Foamcore for display.  

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