Many people are familiar with the English artist William Hogarth but do not realize he was also a brilliant social critic and editorial cartoonist in his day.
Hogarth was famous for blasting the politically corrupt, social integration, & the vulgar. His “Modern Moral Subjects” was the Facebook of the 16th Century. Ironically, he owned a dog named Trump.
Artists by nature are the eyes, ears, heart & soul of a country; the pulse of the collective body of the unconscious. As with any body, you can have healthy white blood cells that heal or cancer cells that kill.
Cancer cells destroy by devouring healthy cells or organs. They do not care if they kill a single organ or the entire body. They are completely self serving, oblivious to the destruction they leave in their wake.
A cancer has moved into our political system and it is eating away at everything that made the USA the country of innovation it once was. Beginning with the Supreme Court’s decision in 2010, Citizens United permitted corporations to be allowed the same rights as individuals, and super PACs to create a system of tax exempt “dark money.”
Corporations began funding politicians that would represent their financial interests. Most candidates, especially in the Republican party, no longer represent the people, but the interests of the corporations that funded their campaigns.
Hundreds of Millions of dollars have been spent on propaganda machines like Fox & Friends, Sinclair Broadcast Group, and the Trump propaganda machine. The intention seems to flood social media with false flag news stories and the embarrassments of Trump himself. People are indignant over distractions while our constitutional rights are being stripped and our country raped by corporations.
People living like refugees and hostages to the American Plutocracy, continue to bicker and bully like grade school children. The arts have become relegated to something people will think about later. The truth is, art needs to be pushed to the top of our collective education.
I have often said, “the part of our brain that helps us create, is also the part of our brain that helps us creatively solve problems. When the arts are removed from our schools you get a population incredibly easy to manipulate through the media”.
When I was traveling with the US State Department with the former Arts America Program, Art Ambassadors would be sent into places with an anti-American sentiment. The government recognized something important, even then:
“There is a universal art spirit that transcends the work of a thousand politicians. It transcends medium, style, language, or governments.”
In my experience, I’ve never met a racist artist. In fact I don’t think I’ve found anyone more able to find the beauty in our differences in skin tone or ethnicities.
There is a common trait of painters being able to spot the most beautiful, unusual, or unique in nature, architecture or people. We are always seeking that single red flower that holds its own in a field of green grass.
As an artist, one of the first things I noticed about Trump was about how much pride he took judging his beauty pageants. Beauty pageants are the homogenization of everything that would be unique. This is a red flag to someone who is creative. The process of homogenization not only makes everything the same but in dairy products prohibits the cream to separate to the top. By its very nature, that which is unique or special must be submerged.
A nationalist agenda does not want to support creativity in our schools or culture. Art space (that place of creating or connecting with art) feels a lot like meditation, or at the very least, communion. Artists can recognize that space in another which is why walking into a painting or drawing class can feel like you’ve walked into a church.
Artists do not tend to identify one another by narrow parameters such as “Muslim, Christian, or Jew.” How you connect with your sacred interior is viewed as private. Trump’s words and practices penalize and segregate anyone who’s internal process is different by labeling them with highly charged words.
Women artists are a double threat to this nationalist agenda. We now represent over half the population and 55% of management in the workforce.
In the arts, women painters now are leading the way with skill and honors. This is vital to understand this transition of gender in the workplace in regards to Trump. Historically, we live in a unique time as women artists. In the past we have systematically been left out of history books and credit for our art has often gone to our fathers, brothers, and husbands. Only with modern conservation technologies are we now discovering the truth of our legacy.
Currently, 65% of art students are women and nearly half of professional artists are women. Only 15% of museum invitationals are to women. Women know discrimination. We know that when the sex of an artist is unknown our work is selected in equal proportion to men. We are creators of beauty and incensed by anyone that would judge our value as if we were a mare for breeding. The nationalist agenda knows the best way to control a woman is to control her reproductive rights.
Artists are also professionally involved in the protection and conservation of art, and architecture. Many landscape painters are active in preserving the sacred in nature. (If you look at a landscape painting of New York City two hundred years ago you will know in an instant why this is important).
Trump has repeatedly shown a disrespect for the legacy of future generations. In architecture, The Metropolitan Museum of Art begged him for a pair of Art Deco reliefs that were part of the facade of the Bonwit Teller Building for their collection. Trump destroyed them along with the landmark structure to build Trump Tower.
In Washington D.C., Trump also destroyed the Old Post Office Building that housed the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. He decided it would make a better hotel and forced everyone to relocate.
In regards to painting, Trump has used words like degenerate (aka Hitler) to describe paintings such as a Madonna and Child. Deceptively, he has implied such work was commissioned by the National Endowment for the Arts. It wasn’t. This is derisive behavior to imply the NEA funds art no one cares about and is a waste of money.
Trump has used this stance to infer he will end funding to the National Endowment for the Arts. The NEA funds a small portion of many city orchestras, dance & ballet troupes, and theater productions. Only a few personal art grants are given. Most of the art grants are to help cover insurance and transportation costs of major museum touring exhibits.
Hogarth was known for being witty & subversive. He would be having a field day with the politics of the 21st Century. It’s time for artists, writers, musicians & poets to take his place. Cell phones and social media have created people trapped in the land of the lotus eaters. Only the arts will be able to awaken them.
Featured Image: Baby Trump, from an idea by London activist Leo Murray.