For Some Artists, Election Season Means ‘Enough of Trump’

Zachary Small, New York Times, July 20, 2020

More than a dozen artists including Carrie Mae Weems, Ed Ruscha and Shepard Fairey have contributed art to an advocacy campaign aimed at inspiring voters in November.

Ed Ruscha’s work is being sold in a signed limited edition of 50 for $2,000 each to support the People for the American Way’s  election work.Credit...Ed Ruscha

Voters heading to the polls this election season in battleground states like Michigan and Pennsylvania may find themselves facing billboards, projections and even cornfield cutouts designed by the country’s leading artists with a simple refrain: “Enough is enough.”


“We are at a precipice in this country, and we are either going to move forward or we are not,” said the artist Carrie Mae Weems, who has created new artworks for the “Enough of Trump” initiative alongside nearly a dozen other influential artists like Deborah Kass, Jeffrey Gibson and Shepard Fairey in collaboration with People for the American Way, a progressive advocacy group started by the television producer Norman Lear.

The nonprofit organization plans to exhibit its collection of nearly two dozen artworks across the country this fall as Americans decide who their next president will be.

“Art has the power to connect with people’s hearts as well as their minds,” said Mr. Lear, who helped found the organization in 1980 to oppose the growing political power of such right-wing religious groups as the televangelist Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority. “This campaign will get people thinking and talking and feeling in their guts how much they’ve had enough of this president. And we’ll remind them that the only remedy for that is to vote.”


The Trump campaign has yet to announce any similar initiatives and did not respond to an inquiry about it from The Times. However, the artist Jon McNaughton, a supporter, has continued to paint widely circulated images favorable to the president, including a recent one of Mr. Trump’s face added to the side of Mount Rushmore.


For LaToya Ruby Frazier, the choice to participate in the “Enough of Trump” initiative was a personal one. Included in her submissions is an aerial photograph of the steel mill that dominates the skyline of her hometown, Braddock, Pa. She attributes her own autoimmune disorder to pollution from the factory, and hopes that a new president will reverse the Trump administration’s rollback of environmental rules. “We should be using our votes to think of others,” she said. “Nobody can escape politics.”


The artist Ed Ruscha sees his own contribution as joining a rich history of political posters designed by artists wanting to protect liberal values. That includes Andy Warhol’s famous “Vote McGovern” screen print created for George McGovern’s 1972 presidential bid against Richard Nixon. Ruscha’s poster, which features a shredded American flag and a frame of phrases referencing hot-button issues like abortion and immigration, is also being sold in a signed limited edition of 50 for $2,000 each to support the nonprofit organization’s election work.


“This is my way of throwing my hat in the ring, and it’s because I don’t see any social progress in these last four years,” Mr. Ruscha said.

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