There’s been a massive outpouring of artworks during the Trump administration. Before he came to power, I never imagined he would invoke such a huge surge in art. In fact, in back in 2013, I asked the same question of Obama.
Obama’s portrait by Kehinde Wiley at the National Portrait Gallery has seen visitor numbers triple (before COVID-19). Merchandise sales also spiked three-fold.
So if Obama was championing hope, what has been driving the surge in Trump art?
Obama versus Trump in the arts.
In times of crisis, artists do what they do best. They create. They take in what’s happening around them and pour it out on the streets.
If there’s a threat to us and our world, artists fight it with paint and wheatpaste. They fight it with found objects to confront the injustices in our daily reality, as Betye Saar brilliantly did.
While Obama gave us hope, Trump gave us something else entirely. Antony Micallef portrays Trump as a health hazard. Hanksy turns Trump’s bulbous body into something else entirely. And Will Coles version of Trump spews destruction.
Raising thousands to help defeat Trump in key swing states.
But it’s easy to make fun of someone. It’s harder to bring lasting change.
That’s why, in the studios where I work, we were able to raise over $10,000 to change the outcome of the election by selling artworks for at least $100 a pop. Now ,we kind of need to do the same again to make sure the Senate seats in Georgia have a good outcome.
Art: it’s time to come together.
Even for me, the global pandemic has seen an explosive amount of work roll out of my studio. The isolation and dislocation I’ve felt is a direct response to the failed management of COVID-19 by the Trump Administration.
It’s time to shift our focus to getting over Trump and getting through the pandemic. Let’s create a new era of a thriving arts culture where we still challenge each other, but not with guns in our hands, suspicion in our hearts and masks over our faces.