Washington, DC is expecting nearly a million people to attend and protest President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration on Friday. To that end, a nonprofit is looking to put its artwork into the hands of attendees in an unconventional way: Kickstarter.
Due to security concerns, the District of Columbia’s city government has provided a list of items that will be banned from the ticketed viewing areas on the US Capitol Grounds: there are obvious items such as explosives, firearms, knives, and other dangerous objects, but posters and signs will also be prohibited. However, signs, posters, and banners will be allowed along the inauguration parade route, the reviewing stand, and the inaugural balls, but they must fall within size restrictions. The rules also stipulate that they must be made out of cardboard, poster board, or cloth.
Worried about the restrictions on signs, The Amplifier Foundation turned to crowdfunding to put protest signs in the hands of people in an innocuous manner: the newspaper. Raising money through Kickstarter, the Foundation announced plans to take out full-page ads in The Washington Post with the artwork commissioned by notable public artists Shepard Fairey (who was responsible for the iconic Hope image of Barack Obama), Jessica Sabogal, and Ernesto Yerena.
The full-page ads will appear in the back of the main news section in the Friday edition of The Washington Post, while the foundation will also distribute placards bearing the images at Metro stops and from moving trucks and distribution points around the city. They will also make the images available for download for free on January 19th.
It’s not clear how well the art will be received, or if the full-page ads will be allowed within the ticketed areas on the US Capitol for the inauguration itself (phone calls and emails to the District of Columbia city government weren’t returned by time of publication).
Shepard Fairey created three images for the project, titled Are Greater than Fear, Protect Each Other, and Defend Dignity, while Sabogal illustrated We the Indivisible, and Yerena drew We The Resilient. The goal, Amplifier Foundation spokesperson Mark Gonzales noted, was to “lift up the identities most insulted over the last 15 months of campaigning.” Accordingly, the images feature women, people of color, and other identities.
The money raised in this Kickstarter won’t go immediately to The Washington Post to buy the nationwide ads. Funds typically take days or weeks to materialize, and the Amplifier Foundation appears to have spent money it has on hand for the ads. Gonzalez noted that the foundation operates on a small budget that covers salaries, grants, and production funds, and that they had put much of the money in their annual budget into this campaign to ensure that their ads go through, “even if the funds [from Kickstarter] do not arrive in time.”
The goal of the organization is to help fund public-facing art projects that “reclaim the American narrative to include those who have been historically left out of the public narrative and targeted by public policy.” To that end, the group is also helping to support the Women’s March that will be held in Washington, DC and across the country on the day after the inauguration.
Due to the success of the Kickstarter, Amplifier Foundation CEO Aaron Huey noted in an update that while the national ads have been placed, the remaining funds will be used for an art project that will extend beyond the inauguration, providing grants to artists and photographers “to continue working on the theme of civic engagement, social responsibility and equal humanity.”