Presidents Say the Darndest Things, Alyssa Rice, Mixed media on panel, 48” X 48”.
“That boob job is terrible. They look like two light bulbs coming out of her body.”[i]
“Why can’t we use nuclear weapons?”[ii]
“My Twitter has become so powerful that I can actually make my enemies tell the truth.”[iii]
These are actual quotes by the President of the United States.
This mixed media painting series addresses the absurd things Donald Trump has publicly stated prior to and after his inauguration. Words hold power and it is a grievous mistake to brush off any comments made by the most powerful man in the world as anything but malicious. These are the words of a racist, sexist, classist, homophobic, capitalist glutton, and it is hard to associate these characteristics with a modern world leader.
This series is inspired partly by street artists such as Jean Michael Basquiat, but most importantly, by a lot of the content that emerged from 1970s Feminist Art. With the rising normalcy of extreme right ideologies, we are seeing a rebirth of the political and civil protests of the late 60s and early 70s. There is a need to make political messages a more dominant message in contemporary art. Second Wave Feminist artists such as Barbara Kruger, Nancy Spero, and Martha Rosler addressed the social, political, and cultural concerns of not only gendered living but society as well. Presidents Say the Darndest Things is inspired by the anger of the Feminist Art movement. I have coopted not only that feeling of rage, but also certain aesthetic elements such as the use of mixed media collage.
Each work is a 4ft square panel comprised of layers of collage, acrylic, scratching techniques, graphite, acetate overlays, ink and spray paint all encased within layers of resin. The wide array of materials and the layering technique helps me navigate through the depth of each topical painting – one on Trump and Sexism, Trump and Racism, Trump and “Fake News”, and Trump and Capitalism. For the most part there are no strong focal points in any painting, my intention to force the viewer to look closer and search for the meaning. The bright candied colours are slowly tainted with black ooze, the corruption of democracy. The “fun” palette and the violence of Trump’s words are juxtaposed to highlight the surrealism of this cartoonish personality – something that clashes with the respect a presidency demands. Should we then respect a man’s right “to treat a woman like shit?” Or fundamentally believe that building border walls is forward thinking?
Ultimately, each painting is reactionary expression of anger and dissatisfaction with the current sociopolitical climate – a way of working through the complexities of the hopelessness in the face of Trump lead oppression.
[i] About Carmen Electra’s Breast Augmentation, The Howard Stern Show, 2002
[ii] “Donald Trump denies asking foreign policy adviser three times ‘why can’t we use nuclear weapons?’ Independent, August 3, 2016, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/donald-trump-nuclear-weapons-three-times-msnbc-why-cant-we-a7170166.html
[iii] Tweet. Donald J. Trump. “My Twitter has become so powerful that I can actually make my enemies tell the truth.” October 17, 2012.