ARTISTS USE THEIR TALENTS TO MAKE VOTING IRRESISTIBLE
Unstoppable Voter Projects Throughout the Country Will Bring Art and Entertainment to Voters and Polling Places; Artists Hope to Inspire Others in Their Own Communities
In this contentious election season, many people are wondering how we can move past division and tension to celebrate democracy and our freedom to vote. Artists, in the business of storytelling and culture-making, are working around the country to turn the focus to honoring and encouraging participation in our democratic process. With this in mind, the Center for Artistic Activism created the Unstoppable Voter Project. We funded 11 of the most ambitious, innovative collaborations between artists and civic organizations seeking to increase voter engagement after receiving more than 100 applications. Artistic events will take place nationwide, with a focus on states where voters are facing barriers to the polls.
Emergency Circus is organizing dozens of circus performers focused on bringing attention (and fun and joy) to early voting through street circus shows in at least 7 locations, including in Arizona, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Texas, and Oregon. The group is also organizing performers in dozens of additional locations to perform for long lines on Election Day. By Emergency Circus, Clay Mazing, Maya Pen, and others.
Courting Voters with Court Fees
This North Carolina effort is focused on the approximate 100,000 formally incarcerated people who can now vote as of a few weeks ago but likely do not know their rights. This effort centers local BIPOC artists who are creating performances, designing billboards and bus ads, and creating chalk pathways to early polling places. By Rebekah Miel and Eliza Salmon.
Float the Vote: Food Trucks as Voter Information Hubs
Float the Vote is organizing Detroit food and ice cream trucks to educate people about registration, early voting, and polling locations. The trucks are decked out in art by local artists and flanked by performers and voter ambassadors. Through local press coverage, social media, neighborhood flyers, and the trucks themselves in neighborhoods throughout October, they’re building to an Election Day festival and a short documentary film. By Brandon Stuart, Christiana Beckley, and others.
Songs for Good’s #MyJamMyVote is part of the next phase of the Songs for Good 2020 Challenge: a songwriting contest to amplify civic engagement in the 2020 election cycle. Cultural Influencers for Good uses short social media videos sourced by social media influencers to ensure that more people understand how to effectively vote by mail, drop-off, or in person, by modeling what it looks like to vote, sharing songs that motivate including the finalists from the 2020 Challenge, and encouraging others to envision themselves through the voting process with a soundtrack. Follow along at #MyJamMyVote.
Project Your Vote
Project Your Vote uses original, moving video footage and high powered projectors to project video on buildings in major cities in the lead up to the 2020 election. The projections are an effort to tie the recent protests to the history of voting via the civil rights movement of the 60’s, inform voters about where to find help for voting issues (866-OUR-VOTE), and inspire people to vote/build voting energy and excitement. So far, these projections are slated for Minnesota, Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, and North Carolina. The organizers are aiming for projections in every state and have created a toolkit and are calling for anyone with a projector to take part.
Drawing Out the Vote
Drawing Out the Vote is a voter mobilization campaign and project series including videos, installations, artist-designed “I Voted” buttons, and other actions focused in Georgia. Created and directed by Gabrielle Mertz, the project involves creative community members from across Georgia, including Oscar-winning actor Louis Gossett Jr. (from HBO’s Watchmen), typographic artist Mark Addison Smith, and more.
Voter Suppression Interventions
Fuck Talking, Go Vote
The Compton Cowboys are getting out the vote! They’re calling on communities to vote early by mobilizing diverse cowboys and cowgirls across the country in a ride to the ballot boxes before election day. Through a trailer, website, digital and physical posters, and custom bandanas, they’re advertising 866-OUR-VOTE and empowering disenfranchised potential voters to get the information they need, while galvanizing voters through the gritty, powerful, take-no-shit spirit of the cowboy. And the call is working: rodeo folks and riders in Chicago, Maryland, North Carolina, Georgia, California, Texas, Tennessee, Virginia, and Pennsylvania are all staging rides to the polls in solidarity with the Compton Cowboys and this campaign. By Randy Hook, Molly Gore, Someoddpilot, The Compton Cowboys.
Imagine troupes of dancing mailboxes, amusing people in public spaces in different towns all across Pennsylvania, and then giving out flyers with useful and accurate information about how and where to vote by mail, to vote by drop box, and/or to vote in person. This is #DeliveringDemocracy, by L.M. Bogad and others. Check out lots more information about this project, including links to press and the full roster of amazing collaborators.
Don’t Mess with My Vote
The simple “I Voted” sticker given at polling places has become a signifier of participation, but during this critical moment in American history, political messaging demands a greater set of meanings. The text “My Vote Won’t Bite, Unless You Mess With It” is a declaration that lives up to this historic election: I’m not asking you if I can vote, I’m TELLING you I will, no matter what you do to try to stop me. The designs created for this project by Avram Finkelstein, a founding member of the Silence=Death and Gran Fury collectives, are on flags, posters and stickers for distribution in key places.
Packing and Cracking
Packing and Cracking is an interactive mapmaking event about gerrymandering: the pervasive practice of politicians choosing their voters rather than the other way around. Through participatory drawing and map-drawing games, Packing and Cracking uses critical cartography, gerrymandering history, and interviews with politicians and reformers today to show how easy and disenfranchising gerrymandering can be and ask what, if anything, we should do about it. By Rachel Gita Karp and Joseph Amodei.
As part of this work, our amazing printers-in-residence, Mary Tremonte and Willa Goettling, have been tirelessly working to print, design and ship beautiful things like:
All of this amazing work is made possible through generous funding from Open Society Foundations, Andrea Soros Colombel, and Eureka! House. Many thanks to these visionaries who value creativity and democracy!
While this election could be described as polarizing, all our projects are non-partisan and do not endorse any candidate, proposition, or measure. The Center for Artistic Activism is a 501.3c non-profit education organization.