On the dual theory that higher turnout makes for a healthier democracy in general and benefits progressive policies in particular, a panoply of arts-centric initiatives have been working overtime to inspire folks to make their voices heard in this epic election cycle. From hand-made postcards to nationwide billboard deployments, issues-based books and print editions, and downloadable activist art resources, here are a few of the most interesting and eclectic efforts out there. And in case you haven’t heard, early voting is now in full effect in California – by mail, dropbox, and in-person centers. Let’s get this done.
Orange Barrel Media’s #ArtforAction nationwide digital billboard campaign. This nationwide public art initiative and voter awareness campaign features artists Jenny Holzer, Carrie Mae Weems, Jeffrey Gibson, Tomashi Jackson, and more, and runs on some 350 digital screens in 16 cities on IKE Smart City kiosks. In partnership with artists and the Wexner Center for the Arts, Art for Action includes voter resources, links, and individual state-specific registration and voting deadlines in Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Boston, Atlanta, Denver, Cleveland, Charlotte, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, San Antonio, Kansas City, Columbus, Tempe, Norfolk, and Coral Gables.
TRANS> These Times artists stamp project. Organized by the non-profit organization TRANS>, the project is a printed and digital project with contributions by 50 artists and institutions across Spain, Portugal, Ibero-America, and the U.S. and includes artworks by Héctor Zamora, Laura Lima, Beatriz Milhazes, Ernesto Neto, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, and more. Acting as “a tribute and gesture of love, grief, and solidarity for the lives lost to COVID-19,” the stamps are marked with a symbolic currency of love. The project began during the pandemic, but also stresses the urgency of voting and creating grassroots structures for political response within the art world.
The PlanYourVote.org commissioned and crowd-sourced artist portfolio. A 2020 visual arts initiative from Vote.org that harnesses the power of art to promote and encourage citizens to exercise their right to vote. This ever-growing public library of voting advocacy artworks is available to anyone to download and post. The GoVote.org artists portfolio. Hundreds of artists have come together to make original art to encourage voter turnout through grassroots and social media channels. The more intimate but no less powerful The Last Draw activist print series offers up downloadable graphics to enliven lawn signs and inspire community electoral action.
The new book project, Not Normal: Art in the Age of Trump. A powerful and frequently unsettling collective archive organized by curator Karen Gutfreund, the book interprets the presidential lowlights of the last four years across contributions from scores of artists whose eclectic mediums and styles share one thing – a sense of urgency to reverse this destructive course on which our democracy has been set. This unequivocal protest against the malfeasances of the Trump administration features nearly 150 artists and more than 350 original works.
Mark Mothersbaugh & Beatie Wolfe’s Postcards for Democracy. This idea is a collective demonstration to support the 225-year-old U.S. Postal Service and the right to vote, especially in light of the threat to the mail service coming at a time that could jeopardize democracy itself. How to Join: Buy stamps or USPS postcards. Make a card. Mail it to Mark at 8760 Sunset Blvd, Hollywood, CA 90069 (and post to social using #postcardsfordemocracy). The cards will become part of an eventual IRL and digital gallery installation as a testament to these times.