Paul Chaat Smith Lecture

When designing the poster for Paul Chaat Smith’s lecture on the ubiquity of American Indian place names in contrast to Americans’ relative ignorance of American Indian culture, I wanted to try to present this theme visually if possible. At first, the professor in charge of the lecture suggested simply using a repetition of American Indian place names over and over again as a background for the text of the poster. I sampled that option and decided the background was too visually distracting, particularly since I wanted to include Chaat Smith’s description of the lecture topic on the poster as well. There was just too much text.

Instead, I decided to create my own composite image mirroring Chaat Smith’s theme. I found a beautiful, high-res image of a Delaware bandolier bag at the Museum of the American Indian. Using GIMP, I merged that image with another image of the state of New Jersey. With careful manipulation of various layers within the two images, I was able to create the visual effect that the state of New Jersey is wearing the bandolier bag, thus echoing the message that America is clothed in American Indian culture. In Scribus, I set the format of the poster so that the description of the lecture fits within the negative space of New Jersey.

American Paradox poster 2

8.5 x 14″ poster, created with GIMP and Scribus.

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