Democracy 2020: Craft & the Election
Craft in America Center is pleased to present a dynamic virtual exhibition of works made by 21 artists from across the U.S. to address key issues underlying the 2020 election and the American political landscape.
The dynamic objects in this virtual exhibition address key issues underlying the 2020 election and the American political landscape. Employing glass, fiber, ceramics, metal, wood and various other craft-based materials of everyday life, these 21 artists from across the U.S. use their media to voice concerns, point out injustice and inequity, and potentially instill hope for a better future. This exhibition evolved as a response to the social dilemmas and crisis that surged over the past year. Art can mirror what takes place in a society and it is often prophetic. Through the objects gathered for Democracy 2020, conversations are initiated, awareness can be raised, and perhaps, change can be forged.
Craft is inherently democratic and it is part of our national heritage. The objects in Democracy 2020 touch on the spectrum of topics that shape the fiber of our nation and our societal conflicts. These gathered works address environmental policy, exploitation, the military, gun violence, immigration, corruption, the need for economic regulation and much more. Essential to this year’s election are the issues of climate change, systemic racism, and social discord. By creating objects that convey and confront all of these urgent problems, artists raise awareness and initiate a dialogue through the language of art.
The participating 21 artists were invited to explain, in their own words, what their objects mean to them, their impetus, and what they hope viewers will take away and keep in mind as we face voting in the next election. These statements are shared in the gallery below.
Democracy 2020 exists as a digital exhibition and additionally, select works are displayed in the Craft in America Center’s public windows onto West Third Street in Los Angeles. These objects will be safely viewable from outside the space at all hours, day or night
Craft is uniquely positioned because of its accessibility as a political tool. Through material, process, and subject, the artists represented in this exhibition engage in critical discussion about the state of our republic. These artists give shape and form to issues that we are all facing in the tenuous survival of our society.
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“While the artwork speaks of the desecration of sacred, burial and historic Hawaiian sites and of Native Hawaiian rights, on a larger scale it is a look at the pollution of land and sea across the US.”
“I have tried to capture both the historical and contemporary attitude of arrogance and entitlement that has existed throughout history.”
“…racial injustice is deeply woven into the fabric of this nation. We are at a turning point. We must unravel those strands of injustice.”
“Immigration is the direct topic, but the crux of the matter is foundational elements of the United States of America: a country composed of non-native migration and colonization, declared equality of the individual, and freedom. It is a question of citizenship.”
“Calling attention to white noise as a source of increasing intolerance and hate in the United States as politicians, media, and citizens attempt to mask and obliterate the reality of America’s genocidal past and racist present.”
“Split in two like our democracy, we are intentionally divided to fight each other—instead of the system.”
“Our ancestors fought valiantly against the invading forces of England, France, Spain, and finally the expanding United States. Thus, symbolically floating above the heads of Native soldiers who represent Native American service in World War I and World War II and whose service made it impossible to defend Native voter disenfranchisement is a bugle, war medicine taken by Kiowa warriors in coup from the US Calvary during the Indian Wars.”
“I really wanted to use my power as an artist to help push and help amplify their voices…I am invoking that other piece of resilience that Puerto Rico will come back stronger than ever.”
“We need Federal, State, Local and Tribal Leaders that will step up to the plate and lead the people in the right direction. To pass laws to protect our most vulnerable and under represented members. Systematic Racism needs to be abolished, erased and eradicated.”
“The work insists on our dependence on forests for clean, oxygenated air, on the connection and interdependence of all life, and the responsibility we have to everything living now and in the future.”
“Other countries shut down, to preserve as many lives as possible. Ours prioritized the economy, viewing humans as collateral damage. The United States instantly split into those who could afford to work from home, and others who never had that option: risk your life at work, or lose your paycheck.”
“Heat, rising temperatures, global warming help [to] define the relevance of the glass perfectly…The rusting steel of the support structure represents the continuously deteriorating political structure.”
“I hope that Americans will vote and choose a candidate that acknowledges this treatment [of Black Americans] and has a plan for how to create a more equitable world.”
“Our constant exposure right now, to images and documentation of acts of violence, and our ability to adapt and move on, even watch multiple times, is at the heart of this work…Our willingness, and at times eagerness, to forget the past and what has had to happen for us to be where we are and have what we have, works against us again and again.”
“The one that screams the louder wins an argument, with that end in mind, rather than aiming at understanding and contributing to complex and in depth dialogue to reach an informed consensus.”
“I am shedding light on the journeys of these immigrants, examining how they became legal residents of the United States or how they still live as illegal immigrants.”
“The ‘stripes’ are comprised of 33,000 stitches documenting the average number of deaths from gun violence in America from 2014-2016. The stripes of black x’s represent suicides; red crosshairs represent homicides. The ‘stars’ are presented as targets burned with holes representing the number of victims of mass shootings in each state over the past 25 years.”
“…essential workers need to be represented and advocated for always, but especially in this upcoming election.”
“We as a country have experienced so many issues and problems that have existed so long and we as a society have not dealt with them, and these find their way back…We are dealing with harvest now.”
“Demonstrated political ineptness, ignorant disregard for science, and longstanding social decay resulted in innocence lost.”
“I originally made the cups to be touchstones about unspeakable things…Things have devolved so far in our political system we can not agree on facts and science. It seems now the cups could be a touchstone to connect folks of different political views.”
Craft Capsule Playlist:
Craft in America has paired these short videos of the artworks with audio testimonials of the artists’ statements. More videos will be added over the coming weeks. Click on the button in the top right corner to view the entire playlist.
The Craft in America Center is supported in part by a grant from the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs.
The Craft in America Center is supported in part by a grant from the California Arts Council, a state agency. Learn more at www.arts.ca.gov
The Craft in America Center is supported, in part, by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture.