The Silent Power of Art in Politics

ForFreedoms Wall Mural Wynwood

Yesterday a reporter asked me why I thought art was important in politics. “Politics is people talking to us and at us. It’s words. The barrage of words today is so overwhelming that we can often no longer even hear or process them. Art presents things viscerally and immediately. Silently. So that the message enters us through the heart or the soul.” 

Of course, I see the irony in my use of words to disparage the use of words. So I will keep my words to a minimum here and simply alert you to my latest project, a collaboration with the fearless ForFreedoms.org. As the first artist-run Super PAC, For Freedoms uses art to inspire deeper political engagement for citizens who want to have a greater impact on the American political landscape. 

I'm With The Banned @MacayaGallery
I’m With The Banned @MacayaGallery thru Nov 25th

When For Freedoms invited me a few short weeks ago to collaborate on their incisive Billboards campaign, I thanked the universe for this potent cup of serendipity. Not only am I honored and humbled to work with thought leaders like Hank Willis Thomas and Wyatt Gallery, I’m stunned at how EXACTLY their mission compliments my current exhibition, which the Miami New Times summed up this way, “Sheldon says he sees this year’s election season as a grotesque perversion of American equality. As a white man, he says, he embraces his identity and the innate privilege associated with it, and he hopes that as an ally, his work can enlighten these perversions.”

For Freedoms is all about enlightening the perversions that surround us. At this very moment, their artist-made messages blanket the USA on the sides of trucks, roadside billboards, park benches, bus stops and the like. They hit hard as good art must. Aiming to pierce the noise.

For Freedoms Billboard

Not Voting Billboard

Park Bench Billboard

Like For Freedoms, we all must go on offense as we witness the organic end of America’s dominant white Christian paradigm. An animal this deeply entrenched in its ecosystem does not die without a fight. With its back against the wall, its fangs are bared, and it wants blood. But its death by drowning is imminent as America’s demographic tidal wave gets more and more multi-hued. And the words on the Statue of Liberty become manifest. No hater is gonna stop it.

Bootstraps Billboard

Grab Em By The Ballots

100-feet of hard truth - DISCUSS
100-feet of hard truth – come out and discuss.

YOU are invited to be a part of this activation. Literally. Monday, Nov 7th, one night before the Election, we debut our 100-foot mural in Wynwood (see invite below). We start at my exhibition, I’m With The Banned, and then move to the mural a few blocks away, where YOU are invited to write on that 100-foot wall what you desire FREEDOM OF and FREEDOM FROM.

For Freedoms Wall Debut

If you can’t make it Monday, no matter where you are in America, there’s a good chance that one of the For Freedom’s installations is coming your way. Find out more here

Interactive Billboards

Upcoming Exhibition Announcements:

I’m With The Banned runs at Macaya Gallery thru Nov 25th: Tue-Fri 10AM-5PM, Sat, Sun & Mon BY APPOINTMENT, (786) 577-0322.

I’ll be showing all over Art Basel Miami this year, including at SCOPE Art Fair, Superfine Art Fair, with Primary Projects and much more. Reach out for details. 

IF YOU DON’T LIVE IN MIAMI, I have a simple favor to ask. I DO NOT want to burden you with invites to Miami events that you do not wish to receive, so I am cleaning up this database geographically. I would be grateful if you would simply reply to this email with your name and where you live. I can then be much more targeted and less intrusive in my future outreach.

MomandEricAtOpening
I’ll leave you with this pic of my mom and brother at the opening last week because … FAMILY

 

Biggest Exhibition of My Life Opens TONITE

Banned Poster

I’m proud of this show and hope to share it with you and everyone who loves America and cares deeply about fairness!

I'm With The Banned

I’m With The Banned

All New Work

2 weeks before Election Day

LET’S SAVE THE WORLD!

Oct 27-Nov 11

How Was School TodayMacaya Gallery 

 Wynwood (Miami)

145 NW 36th Street

(786) 577-0322

Tues thru Fri 10AM TO 5PM
Sat, Sun and Mon BY APPOINTMENT

 

We’re an American Banned

<span style="color: #000000;">Below is a reprint of my current Family Matters column in the Biscayne Times. My exhibition, <span style="color: #0000ff;"><a style="color: #0000ff;" href="https://www.facebook.com/events/650553121778254/">I'm With The Banned, opens Oct 27 at Macaya Gallery in Miami</a></span>. Runs thru Art Basel. Invite below.</span>
Below is a reprint of my current Family Matters column in the Biscayne Times. My exhibition, I’m With The Banned, opens Oct 27 at Macaya Gallery in Miami. Runs thru Art Basel. Details below.

My two young boys stood on tip toes eyeballing the chocolate-chip banana bread on the butcher-block. The five-year-old lifted the knife and, eyes narrowed like a surgeon, spent considerable time finding the exact center. You can bet his older brother studied the two pieces thoroughly before selecting. “One cuts and one chooses. Can’t be any more fair than that,” I said as they chomped their treats. With an absolutely equal say in the outcome, neither could complain that the system was rigged or in any way controversial. Beautiful Democracy!

Most issues in our household are distilled down to the question of what is fair? In theory, the same applies to our great nation. Each person gets a vote, and the most votes wins. Everyone’s desire equalized. One cuts. One chooses. Not complicated. But these are abnormal times. Currently, a huge number are going to great lengths to make voting far more difficult for some.

These democracy thieves wish to cut and choose.

Voting Map of Shame

Instead of making voting as easy as possible for all, a proper democracy, they apply various tricks, fewer polling places, shortened early voting, onerous ID requirements and so on, to keep others from being counted and having their reasonable say. Not fair!

I love America deeply. I feel endless gratitude that my children experience life through our bountiful prism.

But America is sick. And getting sicker. A cancer of false narratives ravages a gullible nation willing to believe what we hear from the mouths of so-called leaders. Roughly 30% of Americans still believe Saddam Hussein attacked the Twin Towers, when he had nothing to do with it. Close to 40% now think there’s something to this “rigged election” conspiracy theory. Why, because those in power said it over and over and over. And facts become irrelevant when savage emotion rules the day.

The Insidious Myth of Voter Fraud, Latex paint, vinyl, paper on canvas, 96x96" 2016
The Insidious Myth of Voter Fraud, Latex paint, vinyl, paper on canvas, 96×96″ 2016

Voter fraud is another such untruth. The fact is this, IT DOES NOT EXIST. Impressively, only thirty-one credible incidents of voter fraud have been documented out of one billion ballots cast. And still, Republican legislators across America are ramming through laws that disenfranchise … you guessed it … Democrats. Not fair!

It’s happening in our schools too.

Board of Education censors in numerous states continue to keep seminal literature from our kids, stunting the expansion of young minds to innovate, grow and learn. Even Harry Potter has been repeatedly banned for “glorifying witchcraft.” No joke.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See, Latex, vinyl, paper on canvas, 96x96" 2016
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See, Latex, vinyl, paper on canvas, 96×96″ 2016

Humanity’s greatest calamities stem from false narratives swallowed as gospel by the masses: slavery, genocide, ethnic cleansing. Without the medicine of truth and facts, a society rots from within. Just last week, after yet another brutal shooting, my youngest asked me, “Is someone going to come into our house and murder me?” That’s the collateral damage of the perverted false narrative that an abstract “right” supersedes all need for common sense checks and balances.

Two years after Sandy Hook and no improvement in federal gun sense law? That’s not just maniacal, it’s immoral.

How Was School Today?
How Was School Today? Site specific and video installation, 2016

When we citizens tolerate political cowardice and the current pervasive subversion of truth, we pore poison down our own throats. Flabbergasted, frustrated and frightened, I’m stepping up. As an artist and humble citizen. For the disenfranchised, for my children and for my ancestors who came here, worked fair and square and made a decent life for me.

And for our breathtaking country, because a home does not thrive when liars are allowed to continually lie without consequence. It is no different than two boys cutting cake.

Frightened American, The artist’s blood, charcoal on paper, digital photo by Christopher Irion, 18x24" 2016
Frightened American, The artist’s blood, charcoal on paper, digital photo by Christopher Irion, 18×24″ 2016

To quote recently deceased Miami street artist, TMNK, aka Nobody, “Art is my weapon.” And the battlefield is my upcoming exhibition, I’m With The Banned; I aim to change minds and drive daggers into the hearts of shameless, lying, mean-spirited people who feel objectivity is something they get to modulate. I will not stand silent as racism mutates from the tool of whisper campaigns into the playbook of an actual political campaign.

We each must scream into the faces of the perpetrators. And by scream, I mean vote! Every eligible person must use the power of the ballot. As Dr. King said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” Well, it currently needs a bit of bending back towards rightness. I’m putting my shoulder to that effort, and I hope you will join me.

Banned Poster

I’m With The Banned opens October 27th at Macaya Gallery in Wynwood – 145 NW 36th St, Miami, FL 33127, (786) 577-0322. The exhibition runs through Art Basel.