Fifty (50) limited edition inkjet art prints, signed and numbered. The prints are of a black and white line drawing that informed the larger mural titled ‘To The Polls’, which is political art created in partnership with Mural Arts Philadelphia and Streets Dept in September – October of 2018.
To The Polls was an exhibition that utilized artistry to encourage civic engagement. As one of the ten participating artists, my mission with this political art was to influence people to get out and vote and to speak to the experience of those that have been marginalized, oppressed, discriminated against and excluded. Each artist created a 8×8-foot temporary mural that rallied the Philadelphia community around civic participation through the act of voting.
This was my first time creating overt political art. My frontier for tackling American democracy started with a painting titled ‘The County Election’ by George Caleb Bingham, 1811-1879 which is apart of a series that depicts crowds of all white men from various class systems gathered to hear political speeches, politicians personally appealing for votes, and the public announcement of election results. I wanted to explore representation and amend what can be viewed as important and coded in the original composition by replacing many of the figures from Bingham’s painting with subjects that can testify to the status of black people and black women throughout American history. We live in a society that is still recovering from the institutional racism that the legacy of slavery put into place. According to Pew Research, the black voter turnout rate declined for the first time in 20 years in a presidential election, falling to 59.6% in 2016. Registering to vote, going to the polls to vote, and pushing images forward that can educate and that reinforces the reality that we could be more involved in civic matters could be antidotes to our current conditions and feeling of discouragement. We are the key components to overcoming exclusion and advancing the progress of people that are striving for excellence.
Moving from the left to the right, the political art looks at reference figures from the following artworks: ‘Grand Marshal’ by Eddie Shrieffer, ‘Yellow Ladies’ by Tom Feelings, ‘Funeral Procession’ by Ellis Wilson, ‘Cora’s’ by Henry Taylor, ‘Boy With Raised Arm’ by Sidney Goodman, ‘Blues For Smoke’ by Barkley L. Hendricks, ‘Aunt Jemima’ from the pancake box, ‘Try On Dreams Until I Find The One That Fits Me. They All Fit Me’ by Amy Sherald, ‘The Problem We All Live With’ (Ruby Bridges) by Norman Rockwell, ‘Come With Me, Now I Need You’ by Mickalene Thomas, ‘Three Queens’ by Tim Okamura, ‘Sidewalk Scene with Graduate’ by Ernie Barnes, ‘The Hawk, Blah, Blah, Blah’ by Barkley L. Hendricks, ‘Slaves Picking Cotton on a Plantation’ by William Ludlow Sheppard, ‘October’s Gone…Goodnight’ by Barkley L. Hendricks, ‘Barack Obama Presidential Portrait’ by Kehinde Wiley, ‘The First Vote (Freedmen)’ by A. R. Waud, ‘Setting the Game Rules’ by Ernie Barnes, ‘Scout (Boy)’ by Kerry James Marshall, ‘Icon for Fifi’ by Barkley L. Hendricks, ‘The Trial of the Amistad Captives’ by Hale Woodruff, ‘Major Martin Robison Delany’ by unknown artist, ‘Ronald Reed Murder Trial’ (Courtroom Sketch) by Cedric Hohnstadt, ‘Banner For Willy J.’ by Charles White, ‘School of Beauty, School of Culture’ by Kerry James Marshall, ‘The Thankful Poor’ by Henry Ossawa Tanner, ‘Woman in Striped Dress’ by Joseph Delaney, ‘Smoking My Pipe’ by Samuel Joseph Brown, ‘Chet and Hector’ by Sterling Brown and the background is a mural on businesses along Germantown Avenue in Philadelphia by Haas & Hahn.