Being that the agreed deal was volunteer hours for lab usage, the agreement was void once they took away the usage. The posters were just a by-product of that arrangement and by no means their property. Displaying the posters was merely a mutual benefit to the both of you while trading time and space. It's not like working in a design studio where you're being paid to create something and the studio owns the rights to the work created in that studio. I'd say you have every right to your posters. Best of luck, hopefully things go smoothly for you.
I had a really hard time with this when it happened and was pretty up and arms, ready to throw down with the fine folks there. I was all for going in, taking down all of my prints along with all of Josh's. Mainly to be a dick back. The truth is, I learned more in the two years I got to print there and teach classes with Josh (and teach for one magical week with Andy Mac) than I realized once the lab and it's volunteer program "took a hiatus".
This place pretends to care about education, but doesn't care enough about it's educators to see the value in what we bring to an organization like this. We were supposed to be volunteer lab techs - there to troubleshoot any printing issues students/members had while printing. We were never supposed to be teaching 101 classes in the first place, but they had us teach anyway. And as it turned out, we ended up being damn good instructors and taught a lot of people how to print, and made that lab a great place to learn. Which makes having our work up for display sting that much more. It's all for show to get more funding. PERIOD.
At the end of the day, I'm a better printer because of Josh/Andy and because of this dream lab that Little Friends left Milwaukee, not because of this particular person running the organization's labs, that has been known to ask why halftone images are so dotty and if they could be less dotty from now on. (Clearly she has no idea what the lab does). Despite this post, I'm a lot less angry about it than I was when it all went down. I'm genuinely grateful for everything I learned, and looking forward to moving on.
That being said... once the coast is clear, who says someone couldn't walk in and pick up the "supplies" they left behind?
The museum folks seem like typical opportunists. We did need you but now we don't, and we'll keep your work because that's the only thing left with any intrinsic value to us. Unless there are written contracts designating the work then all the artists should be able to simply retrieve it. The museum has absolutely no rights to it. That said you have to decide whether keeping them on display has any intrinsic value to you and the other artists, and whether there is any relationship worth preserving.
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