Time is running out and America knows it. This is why fifteen contemporary artists and activists have come together to act. In conjunction with eBay and three youth-led organizations– RISE, Woke Vote, and Mijente, the artists have come up with a genius campaign to get out the vote. This group Shepard Fairey, Juliana Huxtable, Rikrit Tiravanija, Umar Rashid, Jenny Holzer, Christina Quarles, Luchita Hurtado, Marilyn Minter, Alex Israel, Victoria Cassinova, Xavier Schipani, Christine Sun Kim, Hank Willis Thomas, Merritt Johnson and Barbara Kruger bring you… Artists Band Together.
The campaign is especially geared towards younger voters and disenfranchised communities. These incredible artists and activists have created works of art, in the form of bandanas, to inspire, persuade, cajole, and embolden each and every American to vote. The essential goal is to ensure that every American, regardless of their age, socio-economic status, race, gender, sexuality, religion etc. feels heard and empowered in the upcoming election.
After working in politics for years, Max Lubin (CEO of RISE,) saw
“a desperate need for an organization that would do the difficult, but necessary, work to make connections with real people.” Behind the scenes, “work is being done to dissuade certain groups of American’s from voting, or at least make it much more difficult.” To combat this, RISE works to make sure these exact people do the opposite, and go out and vote. Forms of activism like lobbying and protesting are important, but the physical act voting is paramount. “If young people don’t vote we don’t have the political power to affect the change we want to see.”
Fast forward to 2020, RISE, Woke Vote, and Mijente are working harder than ever to create a more equitable world. Lubin stressed that the organizations are “are strictly non-partisan and have no political agenda.” They are simply “advocacy groups for young people and especially young voters.” This is a crucial time because whether it be the pandemic, police brutality, or other rampant social injustice, “Americans are witnessing our current system of democracy favour certain groups over others.” RISE, Woke Vote and Mijente are essential in empowering those who have been ignored and silenced. The shared mission among the organizations is “to give a voice to the voiceless.” Artists Band Together came together quite organically. From the very beginning, Lubin said, each of the fifteen artists/activists were all in. When the artists were approached, they were in fact, “already thinking about how they could lift up grassroots movements.”
Marilyn Minter, renowned feminist and activist, has revived her Resist flag from the last election. The artist’s Resist bandana is now made to be worn and waved. “I’m saying resist getting Covid, and selfish behavior. Resist complying with the ignorance that’s pervading our world right now.” Social media tactics have also been employed to shed light on the project. As soon as the collection launched, pictures of the original designs filled the accounts of each party’s Instagram.
Jenny Holzer, another legendary activist, echoes the project’s mission
“We made a limited- edition bandana to represent the importance of democratic values, demand justice in the streets, and help all American’s have their voices heard in November.”
Los Angeles based artist, Victoria Cassinova, has also used her platform for political activism. Through visual communication, the artist strives to inspire and empower her audience. With her bandana design, Cassinova aims to
“express a sense of encouragement and determination to come together, rise up, and vote. I wanted to embody an empowering attitude toward coming together to make our voices count, which is imperative to our democracy.”
Xavier Schipani identifies as a transman/ artist and much of his “practice is dedicated to articulating what that means to me and how I present myself to the world.” The artist’s design was no exception. In striking colours, the bandana (The Fall of Man), not only depicts but truly applauds, the trans male body. The artist subverts the traditional meaning of “the fall of man,” in which Adam and Eve are punished for seeking knowledge. Schipani’s work instead celebrates self-awareness and freedom.
The collection was strategically launched, and made available for purchase, on the morning of the Democratic National Convention. “Many more Americans are now tuning into politics,” explains Lubin. One hundred percent of the proceeds from the sale (each bandana is $35 special sets ($175 for 5 per a set) and the full set of 15 ($525) ) will be distributed amongst the three organizations. Lubin already has plans in place to best use the funds. RISE, in particular, “will use the money to employ more ‘organizers:’ These are students, on the ground, doing whatever they can to make sure people vote.” Media coverage is crucial, and Lubin is grateful for “FITZ & CO, eBay, the artists, and curators, who have made sure the project received great coverage and press.” But, he is also “mindful that this is not how every person gets their news.” Physical discussions, meetings, and contact (six feet apart of course), between students and RISE’s organizers are therefore also essential.
Despite the madness of the pandemic, and tons of moving parts (15 different artists, three different organizations, a public relations firm, and curators spread across the country), the collective desire to empower young voters is what made this all happen. The large group worked (perhaps surprisingly) very cohesively to launch this brilliant, and essential, campaign. There are still bandanas left! If you can, head to eBay and purchase one now. Who knows, hopefully, the works will make history.
Available exclusively on eBay for Charity now through November 1, 100% of proceeds support voter-registration organizations, Mijente, Rise and Woke Vote
Fifteen renowned and emerging artists to participate, including Victoria Cassinova, Shepard Fairey, Jenny Holzer, Luchita Hurtado, Juliana Huxtable, Alex Israel, Merritt Johnson, Christine Sun Kim, Barbara Kruger, Marilyn Minter, Christina Quarles, Umar Rashid, Xavier Schipani, Rirkrit Tiravanija and Hank Willis Thomas
Mijente is a political, digital, and grassroots hub for Latinx and Chicanx organizing and movement building. Mijente’s key campaign in North Carolina is Somos Mas. Its goal is to reach, register, and mobilize more than 200,000 Latinx voters in the state. As a network of pro-Black, pro-indigenous, pro-worker, pro-mujer, pro-immigrant, and pro-climate organizers, we build social movements across place, peoples and issues. Mijente helps our gente build power through campaigns, culture, learning and advocacy. mijente.net
Rise is a student-led nonprofit organization working to make higher education free and accessible for all. Through campaigns to end college student hunger and homelessness, eliminate tuition and fees, and support students affected by COVID-19, Rise invests directly in student organizers leading advocacy efforts on campuses nationwide. This year, Rise is mobilizing more than 100,000 college student voters in California, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. risefree.org
Woke Vote invests in the activation, long-term engagement, training and development of new organizers, and mobilization of historically disengaged voters of color. By building lasting relationships with a consistent organizing presence, Woke Vote has surpassed voter engagement goals to increase voter turnout by as much as 36% in certain communities. In 2020, Woke Vote is leading voter registration and protection programs focused on Alabama, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. wokevote.us