Free Tibet Poster

First off, one must know that I am a Buddhist. In addition, one must know that Buddhism is an integral part of not only who I am but also of how I live my life. When I saw that the topic for the assignment was tolerance one thing came to mind: the situation in Tibet. Since 1950 the Chinese government has occupied Tibet and forced the spiritual leader of Tibet, the Dalai Lama, into exile. The Tibetan people, especially nuns and monks who live a life of poverty and spiritual devotion, have been forcibly imprisoned without any sort of due process. In many cases, they have been murdered, and in even greater numbers, the nuns have been raped. Their monasteries and shrines have been destroyed, along with sacred works of art that have existed for literally hundreds of years. Throughout all this darkness, the Tibetan people have reached out to the Chinese, their oppressors, trying to understand them, refusing to hate them. The Dalai Lama has been one of the biggest opponents of trade sanctions against the Chinese realizing that a weakened Chinese economy would only hurt the common Chinese citizen and would have no impact on those responsible for such suffering. Thus, I chose the campaign to free the Tibetan people as my topic for the poster. As far as how I came upon the style of the poster, that lies in the effect that the "Students for a Free Tibet" movement has had on spreading the message about what is going on in Tibet. The mix of hip-hop and alternative music with traditional Tibetan music and art via the Tibetan Freedom Concerts has opened young people's mind to the Tibetan situation. I chose to take a page out of their playbook to create a cross between a "blaxsploitation" movie posters and the Ali + Frasier boxing posters of the early 70s. Taking from pop culture, I created a poster about a not so glamorous subject that is capable of drawing young people to a topic that demands our attention if we are to grow as a global planet. If the Tibetan people can embrace people that seek to destroy them and their culture, then our problems also can be managed with compassion and tolerance (as opposed to anger and violence).

Brian Spies