Why you should care
Because we all wonder … Can it make a difference?
Everywhere, it seems, creative works are springing up in response to this election season, from last month’s Democratic National Convention to Miami art festivals in March. Emotions are raw, with presidential hopefuls railing against the status quo, income inequality that’s stricken students and middle-class families alike, and the double tragedy of police shootings and the shooting of police. In response, artists are raising their own voices — and mediums — hoping to create interactions that counter the flash mobs of masochism that dominate our Facebook feeds and TV screens. “That personalization, that humanity, is definitely lost in the drumbeat of cable news,” says Drue Kataoka, a social impact artist based in Silicon Valley. “That’s a role art can play, helping us frame and articulate that.”
Maybe it’ll be Kataoka’s own work, Now Is the Time, that in some way helps mobilize gender equality tomorrow. The print shows an hourglass flipped upside down, with a list of female firsts trickling away like grains of sand, until all that is left is “First Woman President of the United States 2017.” Or perhaps Michael Murphy’s Identity Crisis, a sculpture made of handguns that form a 3-D map of the United States, will inject new dialogue to the gun debate. Some local artists were inspired to subvert campaign propaganda: 37-year-old Miami artist Carlos Alejandro re-created a famous photo of Donald Trump, but with soy sauce instead of ink, for a series called Not Made in China. “People like to complain about Chinese products, but not everything we export is high quality,” Alejandro explains. Art as a means of social agitation is hardly new, yet the history-making candidacy of Hillary Clinton, the boldness of Trump and the revolutionary appeal of Bernie Sanders have made 2016 particularly fertile for creative commentary. Will these artists affect the world around them? Or will they become disillusioned, as Shepard Fairey, the creator of the iconic Hope poster of 2008, famously did after Obama took office?