Sally Edelstein Collage | CONSUMING IMAGES

Envisioning The American Dream BLOG

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 A visual remix of the American Way, is offered in this collection of satirical vignettes,  ironically disarming media myths about war, peace and political propaganda. Utilizing collage, the collection of images form a pastiche of postwar possibilities presented in a Cold War media calculated to sell American exceptionalism to the world. The images are appropriated from sources as varied as mass media periodicals from the 1940's, 50's, 60's, vintage advertising illustrations,  vintage children's school books from the 50's and 60s, and an array of ephemera. The result is a cultural jamming of the Cold War Culture of Consumerism and Capitalism.

American Colossus
Post-War Globalization
Open for Business
Cold War Propaganda
Ambassador of Peace

Uncle Sam Wants You
Sightseeing Soldiers
Military Families
American Crusaders
In God We Trust

Mission Accomplished
Middle East Mess
Oil's Well
Protesting War
Mothers For Peace

 Artist Sally Edelstein's collage with American Icons featuring an ad from 1949 shouting More Oil -You wanted it -You Got it

Never were American dreams more potent or more seductive than in Post-War America when the U.S.A. stood united and confident at the pinnacle of global power.

Like most American school children, I was innoculated with a strong dose of Americanism, which if administered at an early age would build up your immunity to any opposing belief system. To further boost my immunity, a long term slow drip dispensed by the school district would guarantee a constant infusion of truth justice and "The American Way"- the very embodiment of freedom, democracy and progress. back to top

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Artist Sally Edelstein's collage is a comingling of vintage 50's advt. illustrations calculated to sell the American Way to the world, spreading our brand of affluenza around the globeVictorious after WWII, America saw itself as the model for the world, and American Dreams were to become global ones. Uncle Sam was a hands- on kind of Uncle globetrotting around the world with assurance and grace as we assumed our rightful place as peacekeeper and policeman to the world. If the world was broken we could fix it and like Humpty Dumpty put it back together again.

Follow The Leader

With our sparkling minty-fresh smiles and  anti-bacterial clean handshakes, Americans would meet our obligations to the Free World- a Coke in every Frigidaire and a Chevy in every garage. Spreading our way of life around the globe made star-spangled, finger- pointing, wash n' wear wearing Uncle Sam the best-loved uncle in the world. The path to the future would be bright and profitable. back to top



Appropriating vintage 40's 50's advt. illustrations artist Sally Edelstein's collage looks at the begining of Cold War Coca-Colinization of the world by the globalization of multinational corporations
During the Cold War, the Third World was a battleground of dueling ideologies between the U.S.  and the Soviets for their loyalty. 

"I'd Like To Buy The World a Coke!"

We would help underdeveloped countries improve their lives and know the real joy of good living by exporting American consumer goods so they could better resist Communist pressures.

Whoever you are, whatever you do, wherever you may be, when you think of democracy think of ice-cold Coca Cola- the sign of good taste.




Choosing Up Sides

Sally Edelstein's ironic collage utilizing vintage 50's 60's advt illustrations looks at Cold war cultural imperialismWhen the oil-lit torch was passed to JFK he enthusiastically continued to encourage American consumer exports to developing markets, stating:"too little attention has been paid to the part which an early exposure to American goods, American skills and the American Way of doing things can play in forming the tastes and desires and customs of these newly emerging nations."

Winning their hearts and minds we would help starving counties grow big and strong like Americans back to top




Who Do You Trust?
Sally Edelstein's collage appropriating vintage illustrations addresses Cold war Soviet propaganda against a greedy Capitalist USA

Meanwhile a manipulative Moscow stopped at nothing to incite hostility and fear and suspicion of a well-meaning America.

Even All-American Coca Cola, that passport to refreshment, came under attack from the Communists, claiming they were agents of U.S. Capitalism. An article from Time Magazine in March 1950 reported that :"France's Communist press bristled with warnings against 'Coca-Colinization'. Coke salesmen were described as agents of the OSS and the US State department. 'Tremble,' roared Vienna's Communist Der Abend, 'Coca Cola is on the march!"


Face The Facts

Appropriating vintage 50's advt and illustrations Sally Edelstein's collage looks at Post War multinationals promoting a consumer cultureThe Soviets' slanderous lies were put forth in a classic Cold War tome entiltled The Soviet Image of the US: A Study in Distortion published in 1950.

"Soviet propaganda" the book authoritatively explains,  "claim we were attempting to subject the world's people to American domination and that Americans use a wide range of tactics in which fraudulent promises and threats of force predominate."

"The predatory nature of  American Capitalism is attributed to the lust after power and wealth of a small group of  all powerful Wall Street Magnates."

Our Answers to these Krazy Kremlin claims?


The Big Payoff

The Cold War Corporate Culture of multinationals is the theme in artist Sally Edelstein's collage utilizing vintage images from 40s 50sAmerican industries are the symbol of our strength and like the biceps of the healthy and strong bespeak the wisdom of our ways.

Apologize for being big? We're proud of our size...we grew the hard way...the American way...the competitive way!

With the conviction of a car salesman selling a wouldn't-you-really-rather-have-a -Cadillac, we were convinced that America was the standard by which the world's other countries were to be judged. Indeed when you compared, we were beyond comparison- where else would you find a counry that offered so many advantages. No other country ever inspired such a deep or widespread admiration as the U.S.A., the Cadillac of countries.

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A collage by Sally Edelstein dealing with Americas role as Post War Peacekeeper features an ad from Life magazine proclaiming our soldiers as Ambassadors of Peace"Mr. Trouble never hangs around...when he hears this mighty sound....Here I come to save the day!"

Just as  you could count on your parents to protect you, so we were taught the U.S. could be relied upon in all matters of safeguarding the peace and security of the world. "Our soldiers don't have to swagger to command respect." stated an ad run by the U.S. Armed Forces Recruiting Services in LIfe Magazine. Their friendly presence in key spots around the globe inspired confidence in millions of people who are troubled and uncertain."Our nation meets the threats to freedom and works for world peace wherever its needed."


Fun and Fortune

Sally Edelstein appropriates vintage illustrations from 1940s 50s in her collage portraying American soldiers as goodwill Ambassadors in Post War World

Following in Uncle Sam's globetrotting footsteps, Post-War Americans of all stripes were traveling abroad venturing out into the Cold War world as never before, spending billions of dollars on fun for-all vacations. But tourists weren't the only ones packing their passports. American soldiers were seeing the world too. Uncle Sam had gotten into the travel business  offering soldiers a trip of a lifetime.

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Join The Army See The World

Appropriating vintage 40's 50's illustrations Sally Edelstein's collage takes an ironic look at post war America's global expansion of it's army bases
Uncle Sam had enlisted the help of thousands of young men to be his Ambassadors of Peace. American GI's were taking off by the hundreds of thousands in a big exodus, whether an exciting fun-filled off-shore cruise sailing over the sparkling blue seas showing our military strength, or a more permanent stationing of armed forces. Best of all, Uncle Sam lets you stay free of charge at any of the hundreds of bases in his chain.



The Great Getaway
Appropriating 50's vintage childrens school book illustrations, Sally Edelstein's collage ironically shows the welcoming reception around the globe to American occupation

Uncle Sam's boys were everywhere to be found. Today's Army wants to join you!

From the Halls of Montezuma to the Shores of Tripoli....Far from the hum-drum of life at home, he offered so many travel packages, accommodations, tour plans, promising  a date with adventure...pack your bags...join your friends.... it was hard to refuse.

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Sally Edelstein's collage utilizing vintage 40's 50's advt. and  illustration pokes fun at the Cold War Military Industrial complex of war making and money making

A Trip of a Lifetime

Some lucky lads might be off to the Mideast where Aladdin never had it so good, as storybook pictures come to life, or Latin America, glamour-land of the New World where you can live out your daydreams you've had for so long,  while a travel adventure awaits you in Sunny Guatemala.

Imagine! All the foreign flavors of a romantic city are yours to enjoy in takes on a new sparkle as you enter the fun world that awaits you in Berlin....the breathtaking splendor that lies ahead in Laos....romance under the stars is the perfect setting for an evening filled with thrills in Iran....the land where yesterday meets tomorrow in the Belgian Congo where surprises are in store for you.




Little Americas

A collage by Sally Edelstein using vintage illustrations from the 50's looks at  American military families descending on foreign bases helping to spread the American wayWherever Uncle Sam sends you, you could be sure there would be a welcome mat. Along with soldiers and their nuclear installations, their happy nuclear families arrived by the boatloads. Unofficial Ambassadors, these military families would cheerfuly  spread the American way of life in the hundreds of bases that circled the globe . Where there's Coke there's hospitality.

In more than 100 countries...over 58 milllion times each day someone enjoys the always welcome lift of the U.S. military, the sense of right entitlement that belongs to the U.S. alone... erect a military installation anytime, anywhere.


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You'll Love Everything About Vietnam...

The fun side of war in a 1940s cartoon of an American GI chasing a native girl
It's the place to go. For the Pepsi Generation who's got a lot to live, Vietnam has a lot to give.Take this journey  for pleasure  and you'll capture some of the happiest days of your life. Your recruiting officers will tell you of the unspoiled beaches...when you sun on the sands you'll feel like you've stretched out on a soft pink cloud and gone drifting off to never-care land. Only the wash of waves on pink sands, the rustle of palms in the breeze and laughter of village children disturb the remoteness and calm that have become so rare today.


Sally Edelsteins collage about the Vietnam War features a Life Magazine Cover Feb 1966 featuring a wounded soldier on the battlefield with the headline

It has everything you'll want... for gaiety and gracious hospitality, the  old world colonial charm of sparkling Saigon will keep your cameras clicking.

War's Lighter Side

Be sure to take home a souvenir chrome-plated Zippo lighter for the folks back home. Have a local craftsman engrave it with a "cute-as-a button Snoopy on his doghouse". It's sure to bring years of useful pleasure and fun.

No visit to Vietnam is complete without using that memento Zippo in an old native custom of hide and seek or as the Marines called it "search and destroy". Nothing sets a village's grass huts on fire quicker than an All-American Zippo!


Yes Sir, when there's a wrong to right Uncle Sam will join the fight!
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Appropriating vintage 40's 50's vintage illustrations, Sally Edelstein's collage is a collection of icons of the Cold war military- industrial-religious-complex
With our All- American-Can- Do optimism and a resounding chorus of Onward Christian Soldiers, we have flexed our formidable global muscles, confident that our take-charge performance would be gladly received wherever we went. back to top





In God We Trust

Crusaders in search of oil in the Middle east

Long before George W. Bush marched into the Bible Lands with God on our side and his belief of America as Crusader State, God has had a long standing  in our government. Presidents from Lincoln to Wilson larded their speeches with salvation.




Americans belief as Gods chosen nationFrom God's lips to Give-em' hell-Harry Truman, "We were God's Chosen Nation" charging us with the obligation to assume world leadership and spread our way of life around the globe.

Even in the POW!WOW!ZAP! 1960s,  the Johnson Administration echoed Harry's hubris when they claimed to be conducting a Holy War against those godless Communists in Vietnam. "Holy Hanoi Batman", we were on a crusade! back to top




Appropriating vintage 50's advt illustration Sally Edelstein's collage looks at irony of Cold war propaganda of American way of life characterized by freedom and tolerance despite racial strife at home


Americans were the most envied people on the planet. You couldn't help but stand and admire us. No other country so accented the march of new ideas. With more bounce and zoom in every step we could run faster and jump higher.

No other country was so generous and tolerant embodying the best of democracy, diversity and tolerance.

Victorious after WWII, hadn't President Truman thanked Almighty God for enabling the  American's to defend "His Civilization" against the evil of the Japanese?

Who wouldn't want to embrace the American Way? back to top







Mission Accomplished

One need only look at the outpouring of love we received from the Japanese during our Post-WWII Occupation as the very model of how others embrace us.

A collage by Sally Edelstein about Cultural Imperialism- American ideals falsely established as Universal overriding local traditions is the theme of her collage utilizing vintage 40's 50's illustrations An article entitled: "Why The Japanese Love Us" that appeared in Life Magazine, December 2, 1946  joyfully informs the reader  that: "The Japanese admire victory in war above all else. ...When Americans arrived they obviously deserved admiration as victors."

"They proclaim they were beaten by Americans....and finally the only way for Japanese to save any face at all was not to admit but to proclaim that they had been beaten by superiors which moreover left them a chance to save face completely by becoming eventually more American than Americans themselves!" back to top





Oil The Way To The Bank- Finders Keepers

The military industrial complex gets a foothold in the Bible Lands in Sally Edelstein's witty collage composed of appropriated vinatge 40's 50's illustrations
After the sunny reception we received in the Land of the Rising Sun, were we ever surprised by the cold shoulder we experienced in Iraq over 50 years later. Expecting to follow the same EZ recipe for our cakewalk into the Middle East, the results fell flat. In the land of Magic Carpets, no one rolled out the red carpet for the U.S.

 Contrary to what we might believe, the image of beefy, swashbuckling Americans racing across the deserts carrying the blazing torch of the light of democracy to the darkest deserts of the land of Aladdin, was never part of the thousand and one stories of The Arabian Nights.


Treasure Hunt

Appropriating vintage advt illustrations from 40's 50's Sally Edelsteins'collage looks at American lust for oilThe Middle East has long been a battleground for the hearts and minds and petroleum of the people who live there.  Oil and progress go together.

Begining in the roaring 20's as Model T's kept rolling off the assembly line and energy- consuming Americans swooned over Rudolph Valentino in "The Shiek of Araby" falling in love with Arabian Romance, the roving eyes of U.S. oil companies lusted after more than the harem girls of Hollywood ; they covetted the rich oil supply in the enchanted land of Aladdin.


Good to the Last Drop. Sally Edelsteins collage composed of vintage illustrations from 40's 50's looks at America's crusade for Middler Eastern oil


The big Oil Companies have been carrying a torch ever since, creating a whole new alliance- a religious -military -industrial- complex.  In the great American tradition,  the better you live the more oil you use! And the U.S. would be on the march to provide it for you.







The good intentions of American globalization is questioned in Sally Edelstein's collage composed of vintage illustrations from 50's

Perhaps oil's not well that ends well, especially when fuels rush in.
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Good Luck In Future Endeavors


Sally Edelstein's collage is composed of hundreds of High school year book portraits from 40's 50's60s juxtaposed against horrors of war

The rituals associated with High School yearbooks- the picture taking, the ordering, the giggling and gabbing along with the signing of cherished, chummy messages from teachers and friends have not changed over the years.

Whether they were class president, chairman of the teen canteen, Senior Prom Queen, or lead in the class play, a graduating teen's future loomed ahead with possibilities.

Perusing through my vast collection of vintage high-school and college yearbooks from the 1940's, 50's 60's and 70's, it was clear that no matter the decade, whether the graduate was sporting a flat-top or slicked-backed pompadour, beehive, pixie-cut or anchored with a bow, scruffy shag or neatly clipped patent-leather hair, the fresh, eager faces filled with optimism were interchangeable.



Shell shock and Awe detail of collage by Sally Edelstein

2-cute-2 B Forgotten

It didn't matter if they were jitterbugging at a sock hop, doin' the hustle, or twisting the night away, there was a whole lotta shakin' going on as these teens anticipated an exciting world of future endeavors.

That is, until some were to


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Sally Edelstein's collage composed of vintage 50's illustrations addresse's the dreams and hopes for a child lost to warBe All You Can Be

The real possibility that so many of these hopeful faces might have been lost  to war seemed especially poignant.

In contrast to the reassuring announcements of dramatic American victories we heard at home, were the searing images of death and horror we saw in Life Magazine and later in our own living rooms on TV.

By juxtaposing the yearbook portraits with  iconic images of the horrors of combat from WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam and Iraq, my collage "Shell Shock and Awe" narrates the full story of the devastation of war. back to top





Boldly printed in blood-red ink the words To Be Killed in Action an anti war ad from Women's Home Companion 1939The bold centerpiece image of my collage , "Shell Shock and Awe" is an ad from 1939 before the U.S. entered WWII.  

The ad ran in a Woman's Home Companion, a mainstream woman's magazine. This full- page advertisement appeared alongside recipes for the 1940's housewife for husband-pleasin' meals and advice on hanging dainty curtains. The contrast between the usual vintage advertising to women and a daring war protest ad was startling. 

With its powereful stereotypical image of a loving mother holding her tiny son, she asks the question whether she would be raising her son only to send him off to war. Confronted with war preperations on an unparalleled scale and the casual talk of another inevitable war, the ad was an urgent call for women and mothers to unite against war.



The US ARMY:  What's it Worth to Feel Like A Man?

Appropriating vintage illustrations from 40's 50's Sally Edelsteins collage is a collection of media stereotypes of women as housewives
From Julia Ward Howe to Cindy Sheehan, Mothers have a long tradition of anti-war involvement. Best remembered as the author of the Battle Hymn of the Republic, anti war activist Julia Ward Howe established Mothers Day for Peace in 1873 that would be observed in the U.S. for nearly a decade.

Bucking the usual media stereotype's of women as happy housewives in the 1950s and 60s, anti-war and peace advocacy groups led by mothers and women have historically sprung up in reaction to war. One such group Another Mother For Peace, founded as a grassroots group in opposition to the Vietnam war is still active today, joining other groups such as Vietnam Veterans Against the War, and Veterans for Peace in their opposition to war. back to top

Sally Edelsteins collage is composed of hundreds of vintage HS year books from 40' 50's 60's 70's juxtaposed against images of the horrors of war
view full image of "Shell Shock and Awe" in galleries