|Albert Sterner’s epic poster “Over There” depicts Columbia, the allegorical figure for America, as a warrior goddess directing a naval sailor with an outstretched arm. Whereas many posters in the collection illustrate Columbia as a weak, sexualized figure, Sterner’s poster contains a tall, armor-clad version of the iconic symbol equipped with a large sword and determined stare. The sailor is dressed in his naval uniform, starkly white against the dark backdrop, emulating his purity of spirit and strength. The text “OVER THERE” would have been especially recognizable to audiences thanks to George M. Cohan’s song “Over There,” one of the most popular war songs of the period. When the simple, culturally relevant message is put together with the image of a gesturing Columbia and attentive sailor in front of a dark, ominous backdrop, it is clear that Columbia is instructing the sailor, and by implication the viewer, to join the battle taking place outside of the frame. The drama of the image is communicated not only in its strongly contrasting colors, but also in its sheer size. At a size of 40 x 59.5 in., “Over There” is a poster as imposing as the figures it presents.
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