close up of a woman's face wearing a mask with a map of the world on it

Homenaje de Wimberly a los trabajadores de la salud

Darrin Alfred es curador de arquitectura y diseño. Darrin, quien desde el 2007 forma parte del DAM, cree firmemente que el diseño está en todas partes, y que el buen diseño puede enriquecer nuestra vida cotidiana.

En abril de 2020, el artista y diseñador residente de Los Ángeles Thomas Wimberly quería llamar la atención hacia el inmensurable sacrificio y dedicación que los trabajadores esenciales del mundo —doctores, enfermeros, empleados de tiendas de comestibles y hasta recogedores de basura, por mencionar a unos cuantos— han continuado efectuando por el resto de nosotros durante la pandemia del COVID-19. El homenaje de Wimberly, un póster intitulado Global Forefront (Frente Global), presenta a una trabajadora de la salud, que lleva puesta una mascarilla quirúrgica con la imagen de un mapa del mundo.

El trabajo de Wimberly se enfoca sistemáticamente en temas actuales y sociopolíticos para ayudar a difundir la concientización sobre temas que considera son importantes y están diseñados para causas que él apoya. De acuerdo con Wimberly: “Yo quería crear una imagen de agradecimiento a los trabajadores considerados esenciales durante esta pandemia y pensé que la mascarilla era un buen sitio para empezar.”

Ilustración de un trabajador de la salud desde los hombros hacia arriba con una máscara con un mapa del mundo detrás de ellos

Thomas Wimberly, Global Forefront, 2020. Técnica mixta (aerosol sobre papel colaje); 24 x 18 in. Denver Art Museum: Fondos del Design Council del Denver Art Museum, 2020.227.

As COVID-19 began reshaping much of society last spring, the design world responded by doing what it does best: grabbing our attention with striking images. Illustrators, graphic designers, and artists came together to create public service campaigns around the world promoting health and safety, fighting bigotry and xenophobia, and thanking the remarkable efforts of healthcare professionals and first responders. Posters have historically been important as messaging tools in times of crisis, such as J. Howard Miller’s World War II era poster featuring Rosie the Riveter accompanied by the words “We Can Do It!” But not all campaigns are equally effective.

Designers frequently use imagery to augment language, but some of the most effective designs employ imagery to enhance a visual message that is easy to understand. Wimberly’s Global Forefront, with the globe behind the woman’s head and the protective mask with the continents on her face, successfully communicates the significance of the world’s essential workers during COVID-19 without the necessity for text. The work is also highly effective in its symbolism. When the viewer meets the woman’s gaze, there is a sense of unspoken accountability to everyone in the world during this pandemic. (The artist looked to his wife, Brooke, as a reference for the woman’s eyes and mask.)

Upon first sight, Global Forefront had enough personality to be memorable, but was simple enough to be instantly understandable. Wimberly’s tribute helps paint a unique picture of the beginning of the pandemic and the pivotal role objects play within it. This is why we acquired a unique version of Wimberly’s poster in May of 2020.

There is certainly something valuable in seeing how artists respond to a crisis, and the poster will be prominently displayed in the new design galleries when the renovated Martin Building reopens this fall. I know that it helped me process my own emotions, and, today, it is a reminder that we have the power to endure and resist the struggles we encounter. I hope that it will do the same for others.