Why did you decide to organize this art show for Bernie Sanders? And what were the organizing principles?
I knew I couldn’t afford to contribute to the campaign financially as much as I wanted to, so I decided to work with what I had — a contact list of amazing and creative people. The idea was to bring their talents and energy together to inspire other young people to get involved. So one goal of the show is to inspire and educate young people to get involved, especially during the primaries.
Until Bernie Sanders started running for president, I’d always felt disconnected from politics, like there was this locked door that no one would give me the key to. He was my key in. It made politics accessible in a way it hadn’t been before. I began to understand how and why certain issues were affecting me. Honestly, it made me care more about other Americans.
The budget for the show was based on the average donation people were giving to Bernie’s campaign — $27. So my producer, Brittany Natale, and I capped the budget at $27. All of the artists, speakers, performers, and sponsors are donating their time and work.
Was it easy to get artists who are enthusiastic about Bernie Sanders? Are they fairly young?
The day after I got the idea for this group show and fundraiser, I came up with list of artists with my producer, and Brittany sent feeler emails out to people. Within a few hours we got enthusiastic responses from ten fairly well known artists. We kept emailing more artists after that. I set my sights pretty high and got most of the people I wanted — except John Waters. He did write us a really nice email back, though. So most of the artists are young — but not all them. There are some professors.
It seems like you’ve gathered an array of different media and artist identities?
At first it wasn’t intentional, I just kept reaching out to the artists whose work I was into personally. I honestly didn’t even know before hand if the artists were supportive of Bernie Sanders, I just knew I wanted to have them in the show, and to my surprise 90% of them were.
Do you see any kind of unifying aesthetic?
Bernie has made his political platform so clear — healthcare, income inequality, campaign finance reform, police brutality, public education, climate change — so it seems like each artwork is trying to provoke a dialogue around a given issue. There is something broadly expressive about it; a lot of these artists, I think, are expressing something about a particular issue that a lot of other people are feeling also.
Do you think these artists are nervous in any way about the difference between art and propaganda?
I don’t believe so. I think whether it’s a Bernie Sanders inspired art show or a “what is wrong with the world and how can we fix it” art show, these artists are reacting honestly, and they believe in what they’re expressing.
Do you have any plans to continue this project of art in support of Bernie Sanders?
I do. One major goal of the show is to get other young people involved, so if it’s successful — if Bernie wins the primary — we will do another one for the general election.
Kevlar Bear, Dee and Ricky
Portrait, Hood Ghandi
“Bernie Sanders’ ability to transcend generational, racial and gender gaps thru his understanding of and compassion for people is not only monumental but inspiring.
Sanders’ stance on equality is largely what inspired my piece. The notion that if I commit a crime that my punishment would match that of my white brother, rather than grossly exceed. The notion that if I work 40 hours a week that my only chance of long term financial stability is not dependent on winning the lottery. Bernie Sanders represents a change that America, particularly Black America, has long been holding their breath on. What he has to say sounds a lot like what we have been waiting to hear, we listening.”
“Portrait from the campaign trail,” Pete Voelker
Bernie Portrait, Marie-Lou Desmeules
Public Access Public Ad Campaign, Jordan Seiler
Untitled, Johnny Smith
Peace, Elena Stonaker
“Bernie Sanders is our only presidential option that aligns with the positive restructuring of our country’s deeply decayed social, political and environmental infrastructure. I believe that we deserve and can have leaders with integrity, enlightened values and competency, I believe in the overall goodness of people and the great power of the grassroots movements to heal the biggest, oldest wounds with increasing speed and efficiency. Peace to the people, the earth, to the future. Bernie for president!”
Untitled, Judith Supine
Big Bucks, Jon Burgerman