NIU Art Museum continues spring exhibition series

Hand in Hand: The Visual Arts as a Means of Social and Political Propaganda, Protest and Commentary

DEKALB – Northern Illinois University Art Museum continues its exhibition suite exploring the nuanced ways artists respond to their social and political landscapes using visual language and hyperbole to critique, valorize and satirize the events and subjects of their times—often making us grimace and laugh in the process. Hand in Hand: The Visual Arts as a Means of Social and Political Propaganda, Protest and Commentary is a themed series of four separate exhibitions that probe how artists address the subjects of politics, economics, war, power, and national identity; lampoon regular commonplace issues; and represent state propaganda.

“What a Frightful Spectacle,” “Theoretical Mockery,” “Over the Top to Victory,” and a student-curated show, “A Tale of Donkeys and Elephants; Satire with the Wink of a Fox,” run through May 20 with a series of public lectures, programs, and film screenings related to the shows.

The works on view at the Art Museum range from Honoré Daumier’s 19th century satirical lithographs, the 1960s tongue-in-cheek woodblock prints of Sidney Chafetz, as well as a survey of political cartoons that are part and parcel of the American experience and propaganda posters from America’s World War I home front. “What a Frightful Spectacle!”: Lithographs of Honoré Daumier surveys Daumier’s satirical observations of aristocrats, politicians and the ‘average Joe’ caught up in the tumultuous civic transformations of 19th century Paris. Theoretical Mockery: Satirical Prints by Sidney Chafetz examines Chafetz’s prints that often incorporated puns, jokes, and humor to satirize subjects from current political events and his life on a Midwestern college campus. While Over the Top to Victory! presents government-sponsored posters issued during the First World War with propaganda images from the early 20th century.

Northern Illinois University’s Interdisciplinary Certification of Graduate Study in Museum Studies students in Art 656: Museum Exhibitions and Interpretation curated A Tale of Donkeys and Elephants; Satire with the Wink of a Fox with Instructor Peter Van Ael. This exhibition presents political cartoons that have been used since colonial times to succinctly express, in visual form, differing points of view on complex socio-political concerns in hopes of influencing opinion and action.

A Curator’s Talk with Museum Assistant Director Peter Olson and Graduate Assistant Millicent Kennedy

will be held Thursday, May 11 from noon-1 p.m.

Docent Tours with the student curators of A Tale of Donkeys and Elephants will be held on Thursday, April 27 from noon-1 p.m.

Gallery Hours are Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday noon – 4 p.m.; and by appointment for group tours. Exhibitions are open to the public and admission is free, but donations are always appreciated.

The NIU Art Museum is located on the first floor, west end of Altgeld Hall, located on the corner of College Avenue and Castle Drives on the main campus of Northern Illinois University, DeKalb. Parking is available in the Carroll Avenue Visitor’s Pay Lot and metered spots in front of Altgeld Hall. Campus parking is free on weekends and after 5 p.m. weeknights.

Additional NIU Art Museum programs:

Color Your Politics will be held on Saturday, April 22 from 2-4 p.m. at the Art Museum Galleries. Become an illustrator and color cartoons from the exhibition. The program is open to all ages, children under 9 with supervision. Pre-registration is required.

Eugene V. Debs and the Fight for Free Speech in World War One will be held on Monday, April 24 from 6-7 p.m. in Altgeld Hall, room 315. A lecture by Ernest Freeberg, Distinguished Professor of Humanities, University of Tennessee will be presented, hosted by the NIU Department of History.

Promoting Democracy: The Progressives, Women’s Suffrage, and the Decline of the Political Machine will be held on Tuesday, April 25 from 5-6 p.m. in Altgeld Hall, room 315. The program will feature a lecture with Matthew J. Streb, Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science.

Get-on-the-Bus Excursion Vonnegut’s Odyssey and the Ed Paschke Art Center will be held on Wednesday, May 3 from 1-8:30 p.m. Pre-registration is required by April 27. Call (815) 753-1936 for more information and costs. View Vonnegut’s Odyssey at the National Veterans Art Museum.

The Partisan Duopoly in US House Elections: An Analysis of Minor Party Failure will be held on Thursday, May 11 from 5-6 p.m. in Altgeld Hall, room 315. A lecture with Scot Schraufnagel, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science will be presented.

Inspector General starring Danny Kaye will be shown Thursday, May 18. Inspector General is a musical comedy set in the period of the First French Empire (1949, 100 minutes). Doors open at 6:30 p.m., screening from 7-9:30 p.m., at the Egyptian Theatre, 135 N. Second St., DeKalb. Cost is $7 Adults, $5 Museum members and students.

For more information on any of these programs, call the NIU Art Museum at (815) 753-1936 or visit