Visual Arts Feature: Go Out There and Shred the Vote!
By Steve Provizer
Andrew Child pictures the candidates riding a skateboard, each in a slightly different pose and dressed in slightly different cool gear.
There’s still a race for the Presidency, although, because of COVID-19, it has slipped almost completely off our radar. If my spam folder is any indication, financial solicitations for support continue apace, though efforts to keep sub-groups of voters involved have tapered off. Particularly anemic: ways to involve the young, who were supposed to be a big part of the constituency that was going to push Bernie Sanders over the top.
But there are those trying to involve Generations X, Y & Z. One intriguing effort, as yet far from a tsunami, aims to get skateboarders involved in the political process. Two websites are devoted to the cause: www.skatersvote.com and shredthevote.com. The latter takes the most intriguingly artistic approach.
Shredthevote.com is not about hanging chads — it is about hanging ten. Yeah, it’s skateboarding not surfing, but cut me some metaphorical slack given that the shredthevote.com press release suggests that skateboard-design can “employ humor to break down communication barriers and invite exploration of presidential politics through conversation rather than tribal partisanship.“
The mastermind behind the project is artist Andrew Child. He has done some useful things on his site, such as providing links to voter resources and official candidate websites, as well as sites to visit to find out if you’re registered to vote. If you’re not, you are given a way to get the process started. More important is the design element, which was inspired when Child saw one of his sons painting a skateboard. He decided to create montages on skateboards of presidential candidates in the act of skateezing (slang for skateboarding). What guided his vision? “Each of the decks showcases a candidate through layered photomontage [that] represents: the candidate’s background story; key platform/policy positions espoused by the candidate; the candidate as a skateboarder; and finally, the goal – the White House in 2021.”
Child pictures the candidates riding a skateboard, each in a slightly different pose and dressed in slightly different cool gear. The pictures of the men-who-want-to-be-elected (or reelected) president are layered on top of a billowing American flag and the White House. So, has he met the political/aesthetic challenge? Has he captured the essential elements of the candidates’ campaigns? The skateboard graphics are dense, but as far as I can tell here’s what we see:
Biden: Obama is waving. There’s a Statue of Liberty, a wind turbine, and some hard to make out figures that look like a painting of 16th-century Chinese sages.
Sanders: Images of the Capitol Building, a Bernie rally, and, yes, the Statue of Liberty and a wind turbine.
Trump: Trump Towers are prominent, as well as high voltage electric lines, a Trump rally, and hands holding what seems to be a pair of pliers (?)
Bloomberg, Buttigieg, and Warren were also given their own skateboards. Alas, their time has come and gone, but their boards will probably become collector’s items, like Thomas Dewey and Alf Landon-for-President buttons.
It took some imagination on Child’s part to create these objects. But it will take even more imagination to believe that they will spark the kind of dialogue he hopes for.
Still, as a springboard for other efforts in that vein, it’s a pip. I invite readers to flesh out these five ideas, which cry out for colorful graphics:
Candidate avatars in video games.
Candidates as comic book heroes.
Candidates as game show hosts (although that might be redundant).
Candidates as paranormal investigators.
Candidates as roadies.
So, mix and match. Have fun. Invent your own categories! There are nonpartisan, nontribal conversations out there just waiting to be inspired — so get to work.
Steve Provizer writes on a range of subject, most often the arts. He is a musician and blogs about jazz here.