As such a formidable tool, visual stimuli have played an important role in both publicity and advertising (propaganda), and other forms of public art-different parts of society at different points have created art to send messages, or created art to demonstrate the beauty, the potential, or the ugliness of something. While public art exists in many incarnations, from the seemingly innocuous logo to the graffiti at the bus stop to the almost universally-identifiable swastika or cross, its careful manipulation and is an extraordinarily powerful political and economic tool. The advertising industry has capitalized on art's flexible nature, and makes billions annually off our susceptibility to the visual.
Images have a long history of manipulation and an important role in propaganda. From the US Army's famous War Bonds posters of World War II to Maoist propaganda, images have been used for hundreds of years to send powerful political messages to the world's illiterate masses. The media, famous for its use of photography, has successfully changed the course of wars, stirred public opinion, ignited arguments, and evoked sympathy through skillful manipulation of images. The US Army's innovative use of artistic images and paintings raised more than XXX in War Bonds between 194 and 194 One particular poster shows a valiant nurse in a bloodstained uniform cradling a wounded soldier; in the background a fascist monster with cunningly painted green eyes lurks. The monster-in reality, probably a German soldier as young, poorly-educated, and confused as our own-is depicted as subhuman, a creature whose only purpose is to thwart American democracy and to kill our men in uniform. The artist's use of color, context, and detail carefully and clearly fulfills his social purpose: if the Average American Citizen wants to keep these terrible killers off of our shores, he must purchase War Bonds. The War Bonds posters, thanks to this artist and a handful of others, were extremely successful. JC Lenneydecer, iconic poster illustrator during WWII, used powerful, quotidian images such as the Boy Scout to evoke feelings of patriotism and good (ER1). The images portrayed in these pieces of public art were stimulating, convincing, and terrifyingly real.
Likewise, the image of the American icon 'Uncle Sam' grew to represent something much greater than art. Although the government did not formally assimilate the image of Uncle Same until the 1950s, it had already become a pivotal part of the average citizen's conception of the government (Ketchum vii). The personifcation of this figure helped to make him that much more 'real', a presence to which one must respond as if one were responding to one's uncle.
Conversely, art provokes understanding of our own surroundings; art assists us with defining our sense of place. The cultural icons with which we surround ourselves are largely artistic, and largely specific to our parts of the world. In the United States we are intimately familiar with a thousand small logos, each of them carefully designed to be both visually appealing and to fulfill a certain purpose. We see this art every day in something as commonplace as a the Greenpeace logo, showing the Tree of Life, or the Nike logo, a constant reminder for one to be all that he can be. We look