“We’ve reached crisis proportions. I had to do something.” This is globally renowned, Los Angeles-based artist Ed Ruscha, commenting on his participation in a newly launched arts-based initiative and print sale to benefit People for the American Way’s pre-election outreach. The collection is titled simply and clearly: ENOUGH of Trump. Proceeds fund PFAW’s “get out the vote” actions in these crucial last 100 days.
Decrying the racism, corruption, incompetence, and fascistic proclivities of the Trump administration, these artists have created the pieces not only as prints that are available for sale, but as social media-ready assets in a voting advocacy toolkit available to download free at the project’s website. Anyone and everyone is encouraged to participate, post, paste, and tag to amplify the message. Suggestions and plans offered by PFAW include display at “union halls and protests, on face masks and billboards, and on store windows shuttered by COVID.”
ENOUGH of Trump features new, original pieces created specifically for the #ArtTheVote campaign, by a diverse group of prominent American artists including Ruscha, Carrie Mae Weems (who helped spearhead the project), Shepard Fairey, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Jeffrey Gibson, Mark Thomas Gibson, Deborah Kass, Christine Sun Kim, Takaaki Matsumoto, Amalia Mesa-Bains, Beverly McIver, Sam Messer, Alyson Shotz, Hank Willis Thomas, and Cayetano Valenzuela.
Each of the images contains the word “Enough” and are all naturally eclectic in style and emotion, per the personalities and aesthetics of their creators. Ruscha’s is quite punchy and much sharper than his usual style of text; it features a shredded U.S. flag. Weems offers more ostensibly serene photo-based images, as well as creating the project’s powerful video trailer. Amalia Mesa-Bains transposes images of the U.S. Flag with the colorful striations of a traditional Mexican textile, the better to highlight the vibrant border culture which has suffered at Trump’s direction.
The raised fist in Sam Messer’s piece wields a pencil like a weapon, in the vein of the “pen being mightier than the sword.” Christine Sun Kim spells the word in sign language, but reversed, so it appears from the signer’s point of view, reversing the flow of the voice from passive to active. Cayetano Valenzuela and Deborah Kass create vibrant and colorful text-based expressions of frustration and optimism. Hank Willis Thomas collects an array of classical fonts to spell out the words like an elegant ransom note from history.
Ben Jealous, president of People For the American Way, said in a statement that, “This project couldn’t be more timely. Our country is in crisis over the racial injustice, economic disaster and public health emergency that have all been amplified and exacerbated by Donald Trump. The ENOUGH of Trump campaign captures this moment through art in a way that is both unique and complementary to the activism going on in the streets.”
“I really believe that art can be a medium for both social justice and cultural change, and that’s why I’m so glad to be a part of the ENOUGH of Trump campaign and to see so many of my fellow artists taking part as well,” said participating artist LaToya Ruby Frazier. “Personally, I want to express that I have had enough of colonialism, heteropatriarchy, white supremacy, neoliberalism, environmental degradation, healthcare inequity, anti-intellectualism, and destruction of humanity that I see coming from this president. I hope the art we are all creating can move people on a deeper level – and ultimately, move us all to vote!”
Artist Deborah Kass concurs, saying, “The best art can envision and inspire a future. Donald Trump has endangered not only our democracy but all of our lives. Who will defend our values? Who will decide our future?”
“Throughout his presidency his hateful immigration policies have harmed countless people. Whether it’s his odious childhood separation policy or the wall at the southern border — a border imposed across ancient lands that once belonged to a people with a long history on this continent,” says artist Amalia Mesa-Bains. “As Mexicans we have a heritage that goes back centuries and as laborers we have helped to make this land and we deserve respect. We have had enough. Basta!”