Micahel Thompson is an artist who was born in the island of Jamaica and migrated to the United States about fifteen years ago. He studied graphic design at The Jamaica School of Art, now renamed Edna Manley College of Visual and Performing Arts in Kingston, Jamaica. In Jamaica he worked in the advertising business and later began making posters during the progressive years of (Michael Manley government 1970-1980s). In that period his work comprised a collection of political and cultural posters and paintings based on sociopolitical protests depicting the struggles taking place locally and internationally; for example the political changes that were taking place on the African continent including Angola, Zimbabwe and South Africa. These struggles against oppression and for freedom in that region were always a recurring topic for his art. The anti-Apartheid movement led by the ANC and Nelson Mandela was very inspiring. It was during that period Michael won two poster competitions that took him with the Jamaican delegation to the 11th World Festival of Youth and Students in Havana Cuba in 1978 and then to in Moscow in 1985. This was a huge opportunity and experience for Michael as he was introduced to the beautiful Cuban poster designs created by the ICAIC and OSPAAAL that represented a wide range of content and style.
The goal of Michael’s art is to address war, poverty, racism and the underlying threads of violence and danger that underpin so many communities around the world, includes the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the festering occupation of Palestine. His political posters are designed to counter “Cheap Lies” which has lead to the demise of millions of humans throughout the ages. “These soothing falsities should never imprison our conscience. We must open our eyes and let our voices be heard loud above the deafening silence. As activist artists we should not just make beautiful art for others to admire, but also use our creativity to make or inspire positive change. It is the only weapon we have,” Michael he declares. He feels strongly that his poster’s art can make a difference and stimulate awareness. Like the noncommercial mass Cuban posters from the 1960-1980s, the aesthetic of his posters are similar to the Cuban style. The clear, crisp and a simple colorful designs are layered on powerful messages that are easy to see and allows the viewer to stop and think.