It all started with a single poster.
Local artist, and now curator, Peter Kursel [MFA ’87], was attending a party in the Riverwest neighborhood of Milwaukee when he noticed a World War II propaganda poster hanging on the wall—it belonged to his son’s roommate.
“A careless word…another cross” framed an image of a white crucifix that indicated a soldier’s grave.
The poster led to an entire collection of similar prints and planted a seed for what would become Shhh…, a multimedia art exhibition currently on view at the Arts + Literature Laboratory located at 2021 Winnebago St., in Madison. The show blends the historical poster collection with contemporary pieces by artists from across the nation, and illustrates how art can construct, critique and contribute to our democracy. It is on view from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, until March 3.
“I didn’t want to create a show in which we’re celebrating World War II culture or just critiquing World War II culture,” said Kursel. “Our goal was to produce a show that did all of those things.”
The title, Shhh…, arose from an overarching message put forth on many of the World War II posters—U.S. citizens were advised to keep quiet about military movements and strategies, out of a general fear that enemies would intercept the information.