CMA Stories

6 Fun Facts about Hidden Meanings: The Polish School of Posters

Did you know that this year marks the 100th year of Polish Independence? On Sunday, September 23rd, CMA is partnering with the Polish Cultural Institute New York to present workshops inspired by traditional and contemporary arts practices of Poland. Special story time guest Tomek Bogacki will read his book “The Story of a Blue Bird” at 11:00 am and interactive performances by children’s folk group Krakowianki i Górale will be at 12:30 pm and 2 pm.

Our Gallery Workshop is inspired by the Polish School of Posters, an art movement in Poland from 1945 to 1989. Some of the most famous works were government-commissioned for the circus (“CYRK” in Polish). Because these artworks were heavily censored, the artists inserted hidden meanings about their everyday hardships. How can artists use symbols to create meaning? What advice would you give to your community?

Thanks to Contemporary Posters ( we’ll be showing two original CYRK prints in the gallery and making our own posters with hidden messages to our communities.

To get us ready for the Polish Cultural Festival, here are 6 fun facts about techniques used to hide meaning in artwork:

1. Artists often use symbolism, which is to give meaning to an object. A flower, for example, might mean remembrance. What objects would you choose to represent bravery?

2. Another technique artists use is metaphor. A metaphor is when a word or phrase is applied to an item otherwise unrelated. “The snow is a white blanket” is a metaphor. Can you think of another metaphor?

3. Anthropomorphism means to give an animal a human quality. Instead of saying how they feel, sometimes artists will paint an animal instead. A bear, for example, might mean the artist was angry. What kind of animal do you think of when you think about speaking up?

4. Look for images of crowds of people – these may have symbolized the voice of the collective people!

5. Sometimes artists will use a number of repeated items clustered together to represent specific countries or political figures. The 50 stars on the American flag, for example, represent each state.

6. What do the colors mean in your artwork? Some artists use blues to express a calming feeling and warmer yellows and reds for happiness or even anger.


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