The wall of the ramp in David Saul Smith Union has been transformed into a nexus of political slogans as part of an exhibition on the posters of boycott movements over time.

A collaboration between student group Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and a community group, the Maine BDS  (Boycott, Divestment and Sanction) Coalition, the week-long exhibit aims to show the power of political messages told through art. 

Sinead Lamel ’15, a member of SJP, said the group has been working on building a relationship with the Maine BDS Coalition to bring awareness to the movement against Israeli institutions and companies that profit from the occupation of Palestine.

Members of both groups said the collaborative exhibit has the power to educate students on boycotts past and present.

Lamel said the purpose of the exhibit is to “introduce the idea of boycotts as an effective form of political non-violent protests.”

The exhibit was shown last week at Bates as a means to highlight the role of art as a powerful tool for social activism.

“By showing art involved in social movements, [it] shows the humanity behind these movements and the emotional or urgent situation of the boycott,” Lamel said. 

SJP hopes the exhibit will create awareness of current political situations with connections to the Bowdoin community. 

“As students at Bowdoin one of the reasons we think this exhibit is important is because there is a chance that Bowdoin has invested in these companies that profit from the Israeli Occupation,” said Lamel.

Lamel’s favorite poster is titled “Support Economic Sanction in South Africa,” which shows a injured black worker trying to speak with his mouth duct-taped shut. 

Barbara West, a member of the Maine BDS Coalition said that her favorite work is of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. 

“They are all ordinary people, you won’t see any superstars, it’s all about the power of ordering people to make change, who refuse to accept injustice,” West said.

According to West, the exhibit shows that political posters can be just as significant—if not more compelling—than any other type of visual art.

“Some of these posters are beautiful and very artistic. There is a tremendous amount of work and thought that goes into these posters,” said West.

“The connection of art and politics [is valuable] because it is a very contentious thing in this country,” West said.  “I’d be hard pressed to say whether this was an art exhibit or a political exhibit, but in our culture there is still this taboo if it’s ‘political’ it can't possibly be good art.
Further collaborative projects between the BDS Coalition and SJP are in the works.