I spent a beautiful afternoon painting a new mural in Love Park as part of a public art project to encourage people to get out the vote this November. I worked with Mural Arts and Streets Department to create a black-and-white piece called YOUR VOTE EQUALS POWER.
When I was first invited to participate in the new art project, I asked people on social media what issues are most important to them during this election season. The responses were as diverse as the folks who took the time to share their opinions. The process reminded me exactly what’s at stake this November – everything from reproductive freedom and healthcare to gun control and fears of escalating violence within our communities.
My goal with this art is to acknowledge how big and unwieldy the issues can, indeed feel, particularly within the most marginalized communities, while reminding each of us that voting is still one of the most direct ways to have a voice. I purposely included protest signs in the mix as an acknowledgment of the power that comes from mass dissent, something we saw after George Floyd was murdered by police and again when Roe v. Wade was overturned. Turning that dissent into votes can realistically change the future by putting people in office who have our best interests in mind.
I was also inspired by Gran Fury, the group that helped create messaging for ACT UP in the 1980s and 90s, often challenging the public to take a stand and to remind people that there is power in numbers. They, too, used art in public spaces to educate and motivate people to fight for change and ultimately think about issues in new ways.
I chose to use black and white for a few reasons – both as a nod to newspapers and political cartoons (I got my start drawing editorial cartoons as a teenager for my local newspaper), and the acknowledgement of just how black and white these issues are for many of us. There is no gray area when it comes to whether two people of the same sex can legally marry in the United States, or whether our friends and neighbors have access to affordable healthcare.