FAU Exhibition Features Pop Culture Political Paraphernalia and Contemporary Artworks Associated with the Current Election

by FAU College of Arts and Letters | Thursday, Sep 29, 2016

The University Galleries in the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters at Florida Atlantic University will present "Political Sideshow 2016: From 'Bitch' to (Big) 'Nuts' and Beyond," an exhibition presenting election campaign paraphernalia and contemporary artworks that examine the current presidential campaign. The works were created by Kenneth Tin-Kin Hung, Pip Brant, Jamilah Sabur, Veronica Mills, Aurora Molina and Randy Burman.

The exhibition will take place from Friday, Oct. 7 through Saturday, Dec. 3 in the Schmidt Center Public Space, in the hallway outside of the Schmidt Center Gallery, 777 Glades Road, Boca Raton campus. There will be an opening reception and a one-night-only "Vent-o-matic" performance with Burman on Thursday, Oct. 6 from 6 to 8 p.m. The exhibition and reception are free and open to the public. Public programs will be announced.

The exhibition is the brainchild of co-curator and FAU professor Jane Caputi, Ph.D., from the Center for Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies; Communication & Multimedia, in conjunction with AdrienneRose Gionta, the exhibition's designer and co-curator as well as an alumna and adjunct professor in FAU visual arts and art history.

"Political Sideshow 2016"will feature bumper stickers, posters, T-shirts, buttons, caps and other paraphernalia related to this historic and controversial election.  The aptly named "sideshow" portion of the exhibit will present samples of artifacts referring to multiple candidates and issues that embody the journey leading up to the electoral event.  These artifacts address race, class, gender, national origin, sexuality and the ways that these issues are at play in the current election. The goal of the exhibition is to further ongoing public discussion about engaged citizenship, democratic values, social justice, civil discourse, community amidst differences, and the past, present and future of what is commonly understood as a shared American dream of equality, freedom and prosperity.

The opening "2008 Political Circus" section harkens back to the 2008 presidential election. It features vitriolic imagery rife with racist stereotypes directed at U.S. President Barack Obama and U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama. Some items racially disparage President Obama based on his ethnic background and his supposed status as a "closeted Muslim."  Other pieces reference the infamous "birther" conspiracy, misogynist aspersions against Hillary Clinton, sexually objectifying and class-based slurs against Sarah Palin, and ageist insults directed at Clinton and John McCain.

One portion of the exhibit will examine the American icon of the baseball cap. Donald Trump's signature "Make America Great Again" slogan is emblazoned on a baseball cap he often wears. Like any good slogan, this is subject to interpretation and rebuttal, including those featured on caps like "Make America Hate Again," "Make America Mexico Again," "Make America Native Again" and more.

Another section explores the sexism and misogyny directed at Clinton as the first female presidential candidate nominated by a major party.  Along with this material, the gallery will delve deeper into the mystique behind the "true owners" of America and will challenge the notion of America as being representative only of those who are politically conservative, heterosexual, Christian and European-American.

Other sections of the exhibit will explore themes of classism, genital politics, notions of xenophobia, homophobia and transphobia, ageism, mythic archetypes, political correctness, and what the paraphernalia suggests about how some citizens perceive the future of the country in relation to their political affiliations.

"Political Sideshow 2016"has received support from FAU's Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters through the Agora Project; School of the Arts; and Center for Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. Additional support was provided by FAU's Peace, Justice and Human Rights Initiative.

University Galleries programs are supported in part by the State of Florida Division of Cultural Affairs, Florida Arts Council; the Palm Beach County Cultural Council; the R.A. Ritter Foundation; and Beatrice Cummings Mayer. The University Galleries are open Tuesday through Friday, 1 to 4 p.m. and Saturdays, 1 to 5 p.m. Class and group tours are welcome during public hours or at alternative times by appointment.  For more information, call 561-297-2966 or visit www.fau.edu/galleries.

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