As the U.S. Election Approaches, These Artists Hope to Sway Swing States

A Kickstarter campaign from People for the American Way is raising money for billboards from Carrie Mae Weems, Ed Ruscha, Alyson Shotz, Shepard Fairey, and other American artists.

In 2016, Trump won Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin by a total of just 100,000 votes. This fall, in an effort to swing those states in the opposite direction, People for the American Way is commissioning “ENOUGH of Trump” billboards from a diverse group of leading American artists, including Carrie Mae Weems, Shepard Fairey, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Jeffrey Gibson, Mark Thomas Gibson, Deborah Kass, Christine Sun Kim, Takaaki Matsumoto, Amalia Mesa-Bains, Beverly McIver, Sam Messer, Ed Ruscha, Alyson Shotz, Hank Willis Thomas, Cayetano Valenzuela, Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, and Angelica Muro. Their Kickstarter campaign will help raise funds for the project, and they hope to expand its scope to include more artists and reach more cities, states, and towns.

The artists’ proposed approaches demonstrate the breadth of issues at stake and the multitude of identities uniting to defeat the incumbent candidate. Here’s a look at a few highlights.

Carrie Mae Weems

Carrie Mae Weems has spent more than 50 years working with photographs, fiber arts, video, and installations to investigate family relationships, cultural identity, sexism, class, political systems, and the consequences of power. She’s created two political billboard campaigns in recent years, featuring phrases like “With sadness we are watching young Black and Latino men die from violence,” “The ever present threat of violence takes a toll,” and “Our past discrimination is not our current shame.” Her proposed message for this campaign takes a more hopeful tone.

Latoya Ruby Frazier

Latoya Ruby Frazier’s work often serves as visual archives of systemic problems, from racism to post industrialism to environmental injustice. She’s a native Pennsylvanian, and has documented her hometown of Braddock’s struggles with deindustrialization. Her work has stood with Flint, called attention to covered-over histories of slavery, and challenged myths of gentrification.

Alyson Shotz

Alyson Shotz typically creates twisting, morphing, fluid, and reflective sculptures that she’s called “an inherent critique of the traditionally male ways of dealing with the outdoors through art.” Her proposed billboard evokes Trump’s signature border wall and states, across both sides, “Enough is Enough.”

Jeffrey Gibson

Jeffrey Gibson is a painter and sculptor of Choctaw-Cherokee heritage. He often employs traditional Indigenous handcraft techniques—such as Southeastern river cane basket weaving, Algonquian birch bark biting, and porcupine quillwork—alongside contemporary references like punching bags and messaging such as “American history is longer larger more beautiful and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it.”

Christine Sun Kim

Christine Sun Kim considers how sound works in society, through drawing, video, and participatory performances. Her meme-like visual compositions tend to comment on her intersecting identities as a Korean American, deaf artist, and mother.

 

Shepard Fairey

Shepard Fairey is known for his street art and skateboard imagery: Andre the Giant Has a Posse, Rock the Vote, Obey Giant, and the iconic 2008 Barack Obama Hope poster.

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