ATLANTA/WASHINGTON, DC – With two weeks before midterm elections on November 8, artist-activists in partnership with People For the American Way launched a set of digital billboards across the Atlanta-metro area as part of People For’s multi-platform Georgia campaign — including radio ads, digital ads, press outreach and social media — focused on why Republicans Brian Kemp and Herschel Walker are the wrong choices for Black male voters in Georgia, and to help motivate people to the polls with an urgent message: vote.
Participating artists include visual artists Victoria Cassinova, Shepard Fairey and Alyson Shotz who participated in People For’s “Enough of Trump” art advocacy campaign during the 2020 presidential election cycle, and renowned multimedia artist Carrie Mae Weems, who played a leading role in formulating the “Enough of Trump” campaign.
The billboard displays are also part of a larger initiative to organize artists for political and social change. The purpose of the artist-designed billboards — currently located at South Cobb Parkway between Herodian Way and Windy Hill Road (Cobb County), I-85 South at Riverdale Road (Clayton County), and I-285 by Washington Road (Fulton County) — is to tap into voters’ core values and motivate them to vote those values in November.
“For more than four decades, People For the American Way has honored our founder Norman Lear’s vision by working with distinguished artists and performers to promote freedom of expression and to protect freedom, justice, and equality for everyone,” said President of People For the American Way Ben Jealous. “In 2022, Americans are facing attacks on our democracy by MAGA extremists with calculated agendas meant to stop progress. Georgia is ground zero for these attacks. This billboard campaign is designed to expose hard truths to voters in a way that makes these attacks real, and we believe that these artists’ voices and images can do that in a way that compels people to cast ballots.”
“I’m a strong believer that art has the power to shine light on truth and justice,” said Cassinova, who created We Have the Power to Change Our Future. “Now, more than ever, it’s important for the Black community to come together and vote in order to rewrite the future for fair and equal political representation.”
“The public expression of our political culture will always be important, and so will aspirational art that gives people the energy to keep fighting for Democracy, Equality and Liberty,” said Shepard Fairey who contributed Our Democracy is on the Line: Vote. “Art helps us cut through political noise and gives us a path of progressive resistance. America needs that now more than ever. People want to propel forward and I believe art can help us do that in this midterm election.”
“On January 6, I watched images of the insurrection and attempted coup with horror and disbelief,” said Shotz, whose Save Our Democracy: Vote image depicts insurrectionists scaling a wall of the U.S. Capitol. “We have seen the collapse of representative democracy in other nations and here it was unfolding with urgent menace in the heart of our own capitol. My grandparents came to this country as immigrants, fleeing fascism and violence- looking for a place to be free. This country welcomed and protected them, and my family celebrated that freedom. As a nation we stood up to fascism in the 1940s, and defeated it, through words and action. Art played a crucial role as well. Now this task is upon us again, to fight the power of authoritarians and conspiracists, racists and nativists and fear-mongers. It falls to us, We the People, to save democracy, through our actions, through our art, through our votes.”
“As artists, we can create art that addresses the ills of systems that devastate the fabric of our families, our communities, and our nation,” said Weems, who also contributed Remember to Dream to the 2020 Enough campaign. “Artistic expression can inspire people to channel their energy into voting for a better future for everyone and I’m proud to add my voice to this call to action.” In 2016, Weems created a video to galvanize African American voters and also created a political billboard to inspire similar action. in the 2018 midterm election.
Multiple organizations work to organize artists online and off, encouraging them to create artworks to galvanize people and get them to the polls. Many used social media platforms to spread the artwork; some used museums, galleries and other art spaces to encourage voters.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Victoria Cassinova. Victoria Cassinova, born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is a Los Angeles-based visual artist whose work ranges from murals and graphic art to illustration, drawing, and painting. Solo and group exhibitions of her work have been presented at galleries such as Thinkspace Projects-Los Angeles, Vertical Gallery-Chicago, Band of Vices-Los Angeles, Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum-Honolulu and Spoke Art- San Francisco, Volery Gallery- Dubai, among others. Cassinova’s work has also served as an integral contribution to many social justice collaborations, including Blackout for Human Right’s annual MLK NOW event, We Rise Exhibition, Sons & Bros., Truth Initiative and more.
Shepard Fairey. Shepard Fairey is a contemporary street artist, graphic artist and social activist who emerged from the skateboarding scene and is now part of the Street Art movement. Fairey’s most recognizable work is Andre the Giant Has a Posse, Rock the Vote, Obey Giant, and the Barack Obama Hope poster, the iconic image made popular during the 2008 presidential election season. He was commissioned twice by Time Magazine to design the 2011 cover honoring “The Protester” as Person of the Year in the wake of the Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street and other social movements around the world. He was born and raised in Charleston, South Carolina.
Alyson Shotz. Multimedia artist Alyson Shotz uses a range of materials to create interplays between natural elements and concepts of space, light, perception and gravity. Her sculptures are made from a range of materials including mirror, glass beads, plastic lenses, thread, steel wire, and digital photography, often repeating formal elements. She’s noted in past interviews that her “investigation into outdoor sculpture is an inherent critique of the traditionally male ways of dealing with the outdoors through art.” Her work is included in numerous public collections in New York, Washington, DC, San Francisco and Indianapolis, IN.
Carrie Mae Weems. Over the course of nearly five decades, Carrie Mae Weems has earned success as a multimedia artist, using photographs, fiber arts, video, digital images and installation to investigate race, class, gender and power. Weems’ subjects range from intimate images of family to archival images of enslaved Africans to invite viewers to consider how stereotypes and biases inform our behavior and perceptions of others. Weems’ recent work also incorporates electoral politics: In 2016, Weems created a video to galvanize African American voters to vote against Donald Trump. Two years later, she created a political billboard to inspire similar action in the 2018 midterm election. Weems is a recipient of the MacArthur “Genius” Award and the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
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About People For the American Way
People For the American Way is a progressive advocacy organization founded to fight right-wing extremism and build a democratic society that implements the ideals of freedom, equality, opportunity and justice for all. We encourage civic participation, defend fundamental rights, and fight to dismantle systemic barriers to equitable opportunity. Learn more: https://www.pfaw.org.