At the height of World War II, artist J. Howard Miller and Westinghouse Company produced a now-famous poster of a woman posing with her bicep in the flex position under the words “We Can Do It!” Originally distributed as a piece of motivational propaganda to inspire wartime workers, the artwork saw a resurgence in the 1980s in correlation with the American feminism movement. (It is sometimes better known by its erroneous title “Rosie the Riveter.”
Eric Hart Jr., a student in Tisch’s Department of Photography & Imaging, has reimagined this piece of iconic American wartime art in the wake of the nation’s widespread reckoning with systemic racism and police violence. As part of Tisch’s window display series, the piece can be viewed now through September 15.
Some 80 years after the poster’s original release, Hart Jr. has reshaped its visuals and message to speak to today’s most urgent American issues. In his updated piece, Hart Jr. features a Black woman (creator Kirsten Beach) with her fist raised under the words “We Will Do It!” and “Keep Fighting.” In a recent artist statement, Hart Jr. described how the events of 2020 recall previous wartime eras in America and how he intends to encourage his community to continue to mobilize.
“Numerous horrific events that have taken place over the past few months made this country feel as if some sort of war was among us. Diving into this idea of war, I begin to think about iconic symbols in American history used to influence. I wanted to urge people of color to understand the power that they possess and utilize it. I urge my brothers and sister to please keep fighting for our lives. Keep protesting, keep donating, keep recording, keep sharing resources, and keep informing.”
Stop by 721 Broadway to check out the artwork and find more work from Hart Jr. on Instagram at @erichartjr.