Friday, 20 January 2017

Dear Mr. President

What on earth can you say that adds anything new to the debate surrounding the election of Donald Trump as US President? Nothing pithy springs to mind, just a compounded disbelief following the UK's Brexit vote, that nothing could be worse - only it is - and we've only just begun. It feels like we're inhabiting the world of fiction peddled in the Marvel comics of my childhood, where a deranged business magnate holds the world to ransom. Worse still, is the sobering reality that he represents a fair sway of the population. Of course, art and artists will reflect this time explicitly and in rather more nuanced ways, and this week I got sight of something rather remarkable that puts a marker down, here and now, in this time and space.

Art by Sammy Ho in Dear Mr. President (image courtesy YAI Arts and MoMA)
Carrie McGee, Assistant Director, Community and Access Programs, MoMA; Rebecca Goyette, Teaching Artist, MoMA; and Anna Schechter, Supervisor, Clinical & Family Services, YAI are the team behind an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York that deserves wide acclaim.

"For 60 years, YAI has supported people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in achieving the fullest life possible by creating opportunities for living, loving, working, and learning. One such opportunity is YAI ARTS, an open-studio program that encourages adults to promote their artistic voices and become working artists. Over the past three years, MoMA’s Access Programs and YAI ARTS have collaborated on an extended partnership."

"This year, the inspiration for the artists’ work was the 2016 presidential election. The artists discussed their thoughts about the future of our country and created portraits of political figures past and present. After the election, many of the artists wrote letters to politicians to ensure that the rights of people with disabilities are respected during this time of change. Visitors are encouraged to follow this example and advocate for their political beliefs by sharing their feelings on a collaborative wall, featuring open letters to the president that will be mailed to the White House when the exhibition closes."

This is important work - it's personal, potent and political. Most of us will have heard the sexist, misogynist and racist abuse, and seen the blatant nepotism unfolding, but remember the Presidents oh-so subtle mimicry of the New York Times journalist Serge F. Kovaleski, who has a disability. This is an exhibition to see. You have until February 12th.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

Meanwhile, back in Albion, and on a slightly less nuanced note, our very own Billy Chyldish has knocked out a few posters to celebrate everything Trump. 

Visitors who visit the Arts for Health HQ will have seen one of the less (how shall we say) offensive posters emblazoned across the office wall, sitting proudly next to one of pumpkin-headed, right wing twerp, Farage. If you want to see the full range of Childish imagery and aren't easily offended, click HERE.

That's all from me. I give up. Goodbye.

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