Art teacher’s pandemic posters inspired by war effort

Cathy Dobson 

They’re bright and flashy with big, bold slogans impossible to ignore.

Sarnia artist Michael Slotwinski was inspired by iconic war propaganda posters to create his own series emphasizing what must be done to win the battle against COVID-19.

“I felt I had to do something,” he says. “My wife is a nurse and she keeps driving home from work at the hospital and seeing people interacting all the time.

Michael Slotwinski

“She says they just don’t get it. They aren’t social distancing.”

So Slotwinski, a 30-year-old art teacher at Alexander Mackenzie Secondary School, is helping the best way he knows.

So far, he’s painted eight of the 18 x 24 inch posters in the same bold colours as the iconic posters of the two world wars. With slogans like “Every bit helps – Are you part of the Movement?” and “We can do it Together – Donate unused PPE Today,” Slotwinski’s posters are being shared widely on social media.

Thousands have responded since the posters began circulating in late March.

“The first one I did was a picture of a police officer, a nurse and a grocery clerk – the people on the front lines,” he explained.  “They say they are doing their part and urge others to do their part by staying home.”

One poster reads, “Loose Lips Can Cost Lives” and evokes the Lea Vivot bronze statue in front of Sarnia Library of two people sitting on a park bench.

“The message there is about social distancing and how an innocent kiss with your boyfriend or girlfriend can cause more trauma than you’d expect,” Slotwinski said.

“As we all know, you don’t need to be showing signs or symptoms of the virus in order to have it and spread it.”

Two posters are about donating, one for Canadian Blood Services and the other for unused and unopened PPE (Personal Protective Equipment).

“I’ve had people from all over the world responding,” said Slotwinski.  “Not just media, but also from people encouraging me to produce the posters in various languages.”

He plans to translate the first six into French and produce more posters this week.

“Not only is my wife a nurse – and she’s pregnant – but so many of our friends are nurses,” said Slotwinski.  “I did it for them and for all the front-line workers.

“No one in the grocery stores ever asked to have such an important or dangerous role.”

Slotwinski may be familiar to Sarnians as a long-time ArtWalk participant whose work has exhibited at various art shows.

He’s perhaps best known for 25 large-scale paintings of NHL goalie masks he did in 2012, which led to a tour of ‘Hockey’s Masked Men’ at OHL arenas across Ontario.

As Slotwinski says, every artist is on the lookout for his next big idea.

“This is mine,” he said. “When Trump calls this a wartime effort, it legitimizes my posters even more. If this is a wartime effort, why not create wartime posters?”

He hopes the posters will be shared on the Internet and travel the world over.

“Maybe one day we will look back on this time and my posters will have played a part that helped us bring this hard chapter to an end.

“We’re all in this together.”

Slotwinski’s COVID-19 posters can be viewed at:

Website: http://www.slotsartstudio.com/corona-virus-posters/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/slots_art_studio/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SlotsArtStudio

Twitter: https://twitter.com/slots_art?lang=en

The Arts Journal highlights cultural projects in the local community. Send your ideas to cathy.dobson@thesarniajournal.ca.