Having watched this country’s administration over the past few years, I’m shocked by their incompetence. I feel frustrated by their selfishness, astounded by their lies, and disheartened by their blatant sexism and racism. This series, America Bless God — By the Words, is an expression of those emotions and reactions, which many Americans have struggled with. Combining representational portraits and scrambled quotes allowed me to highlight truths, unfortunately branded as “fake news,” while emphasizing the absurd twists of language that have seemingly overtaken the president and those associated with him. With outrageous things happening every day it’s easy to lose track of the many, extremely significant, issues — global warming, presidential and administrative ineptitude, tiki-torch Nazis, rapist “civil servants,” inhuman treatment of people of color, and the mishandling of this pandemic. These events showcase a betrayal of the spirit of this country that is too important to allow to fade into memory. By addressing the absurdity it’s possible to grow and take actions toward a more positive future. With that goal in mind, 25 percent of the profits from this series will go to a cause related to the sold piece or print.
Sealing Division text: “Seal of the President of the United States…E pluribus unum.” (Latin phrase meaning ‘from many, one’)
This one country is made up of millions of individuals, e pluribus unum. Trump lost the popular vote; the American people did not want him representing us. Somehow the outdated system of the electoral college granted him the presidency, but his lack of general approval makes it a mock position, one that many, if not most Americans are now ashamed of.
Donations from this piece will go to F*ck Gerry (mandering).
1st image: Liberty
2nd image: Captivity
Liberty text: “Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,/ With conquering limbs astride from land to land;/ Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand/ A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame/ Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name/ Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand/ Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command/ The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame./ “Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she/ With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,/ Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,/ The wretched refuse of your teeming shore./ Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,/ I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
- The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus, Nov 2nd, 1883. (A bronze plaque with this poem became a part of the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty in 1903.)
Captivity text: “When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. They're not sending you. They're not sending you. They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
- Trumps campaign launch speech, June 16th, 2015.
Since it was stolen from the indigenous population, America has been a nation of immigrants. People were so proud of this melting pot of cultures that Emma Lazarus’ poem, The New Colossus, was attached to the base of the Statue of Liberty to welcome people as they entered the country, from across the sea and around the world, in pursuit of an American dream. Today it is a different story. President Trump launched his campaign in 2015 by calling Mexicans rapists and drug dealers. He hinged his presidency on the promise of building an expensive, unnecessary, and ineffective wall. ICE denies asylum seekers, takes children from their parents, and keeps them in overcrowded cages. Now we’ve found out that women are being sterilized against their will in these camps. America was meant to be a place for people around the world to collectively build their ideas of a better life together. This reversal of American values is incredibly harmful and destabilizing.
Donations from these pieces will go to the ACLU.
Another Prayer text: "Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
- Lords Prayer
The vast majority of politicians in this country seem to be Christian. Everyone in this country has the right to practice the religion of their choice, but there is a tacit hypocrisy in those politicians who claim to follow Christ and then leave citizens defenseless in terms of their healthcare, housing, and sustenance. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being a Christian, but it’s extremely problematic to push an unphilosophical interpretation of the Bible into law. Homophobia and women’s reproductive rights have been targeted specifically by a religious “morality” that forgoes “love thy neighbor as thine self” and replaces it with a “go to hell” clause.
Donations from this piece will go to Planned Parenthood.
"Honorable" Brett text: “I like beer.”
- Brett Kavanaugh's Senate Hearing Testimony, Sept 27th, 2018.
Doctor Ford text: “I was pushed onto the bed and Brett got on top of me. He began running his hands over my body and grinding his hips into me. I yelled, hoping someone downstairs might hear me, and tried to get away from him, but his weight was heavy. Brett groped me and tried to take off my clothes. He had a hard time because he was so drunk, and because I was wearing a one-piece bathing suit under my clothes. I believed he was going to rape me. I tried to yell for help. When I did, Brett put his hand over my mouth to stop me from screaming. This was what terrified me the most, and has had the most lasting impact on my life. It was hard for me to breathe, and I thought that Brett was accidentally going to kill me. Both Brett and Mark were drunkenly laughing during the attack. They both seemed to be having a good time.”
- Dr. Christine Blasey Ford's Opening Statement for Senate Hearing Testimony, Sept 27th, 2018.
Many women have had experiences like the one Dr. Ford described. One would think the response to such an accusation would be swift and justly severe. Surely, someone who would treat a woman so unjustly has no place on the Supreme Court, but apparently Kavanaugh’s frantic, angry, and apparent defense of liking beer excused him from such a strict treatment. Unfortunately, this is often the response given to women who, with courage to come forward, describe their experiences like this. They’re met with disbelief, or the behavior is excused because the boys will be boys. Right? Ford’s words should have mattered here and it is unbelievable that they did not.
Donations from these pieces will go to Time’s Up.
Cohen in Indecision
Cohen in Indecision text #1: “If somebody does something Mr. Trump doesn’t like, I do everything in my power to resolve it to Mr. Trump’s benefit…If you do something wrong, I'm going to come at you, grab you by the neck and I'm not going to let you go until I'm finished."
- ABC interview with Michael Cohen, 2011.
Cohen in Indecision text #2: “I am ashamed because I know what Mr. Trump is. He is a racist. He is a conman. He is a cheat.”
- Michael Cohen’s Opening statement before House Oversight and Reform Committee, Feb 27th, 2019.
Muller’s investigation and the impeachment trials seemed significant at the time. Many of Trump’s associates, among them, his former attorney, Michael Cohen, were arrested. This man defended Trump for years, but under oath in his testimony he disavowed Trump. There’s nothing nice to say about this president, and the people working with him know that. They’re ignoring their conscience and the will of the people by following him, and because of their immoral support, the impeachment had no real effect. Trump remained in office.
Donations from this piece will go to the Society of Professional Journalists.
Presidential Assault Victims
Presidential Assault Victims text: “Jessica Leeds, Ivana Trump, Kristin Anderson, Jill Harth, Lisa Boyne, Mariah Billado, Temple Taggart McDowell, Cathy Heller, Karena Virginia, Bridget Sullivan, Tasha Dixon, Mindy McGillivray, Rachel Crooks, Natasha Stoynoff, Jennifer Murphy , Jessica Drake, Samantha Holvey, Ninni Laaksonen, Summer Zervos, Cassandra Searles, E. Jean Carroll.”
These 21 women have accused Trump of sexual assault, though the full list of accusers may contain around 26 names. In regards to women, the president boasted about how he would “grab them by the pussy,” seemingly without consent, because of his fame. We knew these things before the 2016 election and he somehow still made it to the Whitehouse.
Donations from this piece will go to End Violence Against Women.
Idiot in Chief
Idiot in Chief text: “But for too many of our citizens, a different reality exists: Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities; rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation; an education system, flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of knowledge; and the crime and gangs and drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential.
This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.”
Inaugural Address, Jan 20th, 2017.
Trump started his presidency by fear-mongering, unintentionally revealing his concern for his own covert racist and sexist agendas as opposed to the concerns of the American people. He then proceeded to spend each day since the inauguration using language that encouraged division instead of unity, and demonstrating incompetence that has ultimately led to the death of over 200,000 people during this pandemic. There have been so many shocking moments in this presidency that I feel like I could have done an entire series each week on different injustices from the moment he announced his candidacy, if I could only paint that fast. Instead, I had to focus on a few key moments that highlight the unstable position of this country. Trump himself is a huge problem, and it’s imperative that he be voted out this election cycle, but I think it’s important to recognize that his election is a symptom rather than the cause of these problems our country is struggling with. He’s certainly exacerbated them with incredibly loud misinformation, but they’ve been around for a long time, and even after this orange moron is elected out office, we’ll need to continue to stand up for what is right and look for solutions.
Donations from this piece will go to the Society of Professional Journalists.
People of color are murdered on the streets by an overfunded, undertrained police force that should be protecting them. However, if we look at the president’s statements, is it still a surprise that cops feel the confidence to perpetrate such horrible actions? Violent Nazis take to the streets and all the president can say is that there are fine people on both sides. More recently, when given the chance to disavow white supremacists, Trump instead told them to “stand back and stand by.” Terrifying.
For years the president has been encouraging racists to emerge from their hiding holes and to feel that their viewpoints are valid. The truth is that “all [people] are created equal,” and we cannot stand for someone who even suggests otherwise.
Donations from these pieces will go to the NAACP.
"Fine" People text: “You had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.”
- Trump at press conference on violent Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville VA,Aug 15th, 2017.
Dying Breath text: “I can’t breathe.”
- George Floyd, May 25th, 2020.
1st image: They Say Nothing
They Say Nothing text: "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
- Pledge of Allegiance (This version of the pledge came into use in 1953.)
2nd image: We Say Nothing Back
We Say Nothing Back text: “I, Donald John Trump, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."
- Trump's Oath of Office, Jan. 20, 2017
It’s weird that the children of this country are made to pledge allegiance to the flag each morning. It’s even weirder when you consider that the president, and so many other politicians who took similar oaths to do what is best for the people under their care seem to only care about doing what is best for themselves.
Donations from these pieces will go to Brand New Congress.
Stand With Greta - Save The World
Stand with Greta - Save the World text: “Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!”
- Greta Thunberg, UN Climate Action Summit, Sept 21st, 2019.
Many in power on the right claim that global warming is a hoax, but we’re already seeing its effects. Ice caps are melting, extreme weather patterns are being felt across the world, extinction rates among animals and insects are increasing, fires on throughout our west coast and Australia have worsened, and hurricanes in the southeast seem to be getting stronger and making landfall more frequently. Though it’s been a year since Greta so clearly pointed this out, it seems that she hasn’t been taken seriously enough, because I haven’t seen much, if any, change. We need to stand up for the environment and demand sensible legislation to curb the actions of large corporations produce the most pollution from their actions. Of course, we also need to make changes in our own lives by refusing single use items we do not need, reducing what we cannot refuse, reusing by purchasing secondhand, recycling properly instead of wishfully, and rotting the rest in compost.
Donations from this piece will go to the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund.
RBG text: "Justices continue to think and can change. I am ever hopeful that if the court has a blind spot today, its eyes will be open tomorrow."
- Interview on Hobby Lobby Dissent, 2014
When Antoine Scalia passed away in February of 2016, the election was nine months away. It was Obama’s responsibility as sitting president to choose a replacement. Instead, Mitch McConnell and the rest of the republican-controlled senate blocked Obama’s pick for months, calling him a lame duck president about to leave the White House. They said the American people should get a say in the supreme court nominee by voting in a new president (though of course the American people did have a say already as Obama won the vote in 2012). Fine. They set a new precedent. When Trump was elected, he was allowed to fill that seat, and later the seat of retired judge Anthony Kennedy (replaced by "honorable" Kavanaugh). And then, when Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, a champion of women's rights, passed away less than 7 weeks before the 2020 election, instead of sticking to their new rule, republican lawmakers rushed through Trump's third Supreme Court nominee, when they should have been helping to pass another much needed Covid 19 relief bill. They have stolen the Supreme Court, totally ignoring Ginsberg’s dying wish that she not be replaced until after the election, and totally ignoring the needs of American citizens.
Donations from this piece will go to Planned Parenthood.