(Note: This originally appeared in my Digital Dingolay Newsletter. You are subscribed, aren’t you?)
By the time you read this, we’ll be well on the way to installing the Trumpster as the US’ 45th president.
It really has been an ordeal for me, and I’ve had many sleepless nights, panic attacks, and days where I couldn’t get out of the bed, just because of the election. I’m mostly better now, but to say that the whole nightmare has been triggering is an understatement.
While I’m not past all the stages of grief, and I’ll probably have a relapse this weekend, I know that I can’t live like this for the next 4 years; my heart and sanity wouldn’t be able to take it. People that know me know that I’m not usually one to anger, and am on the passive side, but I feel the need to do something. I wondered if I could marry my art and use that as some sort of way to protest, but it seems as if it would be barely more responsive than firing off angry tweets, and only half as effective.
I’m not a cartoonist. I can’t come up with a witty, biting, cartoon that succinctly describes the state of this new world in a few panels. I’m not a Bansky, spray painting social commentary that makes people think while they’re wryly smiling. I’m merely a guy that mostly paints attractive fat women. My art has messages and serves a purpose. It brings forth ideas about acceptance, accepting one’s own beauty, and if I was to be really generous, ideas about feminism and the power of women. That’s fine and all, but I wonder if I could do more.
I’ve been thinking about it, and even if I were to do more protesting artistically (in whatever form that might take), I don’t have nearly the audience numbers for it. I mean, yawl cool and all, but I would need my art to reach an order of magnitude more people. Right now, it would feel like preaching to the choir anyway (making the assumption that most of my readers share some of my political leanings). And what would be the message anyway? A message of unity? Resistance? Resist in unison? The type of protest art I’ve seen, which isn’t and exhausted list by any stretch, tended to lie on the side of derision (remember micropenis Trump?), and I don’t know if that really solved anything. It can easily end up being like “hah hah hah, look at my art lambasting Trump and/or the yokels that voted for him. Aren’t I clever?”
But maybe it’s not meant to necessarily solve anything, or provide the “answer”, or serve as an instruction manual as to the way forward (though it would really nice if it did). Maybe, and this is just a possible answer for me, my art isn’t meant to protest. Maybe it’s continuing doing what it does; sending a message about an often marginalized group (now doesn’t that sound pretentious). But as always, I’m open to suggestions and comments. Have you seen some really great protest art? Any ideas on how I could attempt it? Or even if I should.
My ears and eyes are open. My sanity depends on it.