March 20th, 2017 – Since the November election, Donald Trump has become the target of widespread criticism over everything from his sweeping Executive Orders, to his comments on women, immigrants, the trans community, the press, the U.S. military, the leaders of Germany and Australia, NATO and the cast of Saturday Night Live. One Santa Monica, California-based artist has made her disapproval of Trump’s actions very public to the outrage of many in the pro-Trump camp. Karen Fiorito was commissioned to create a political poster that expressed the frustration over what some progressives have described as a descent into fascism.
The billboard, put up in conjunction with a three-day art event in Phoenix, Arizona, depicts Donald Trump flanked by swastika-like symbols and giant, fiery mushroom clouds meant to evoke nuclear explosions.
“I think a lot of people are feeling this way and I’m just trying to express what I think is on a lot of people’s minds these days.”
A close inspection of the billboard reveals the “swastikas” are actually stylized dollar signs and the mushroom clouds are in the shape of cackling circus clowns. Trump is also wearing a Russian Federation lapel pin, a nod to the low-boil controversy over senior Trump officials being in communication with Russian political appointees in the lead up to the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
The reaction to the billboard has been immediate and impassioned. Many locals were quoted as approving of the provocative imagery concluding that the purpose of art is to spark a dialogue over complicated issues. Others have taken a less than political view of the billboard calling its creator a “racist pig” and “mentally ill.” There have also been more serious messages posted on social media. Fiorito confessed:
“There have been a couple of people who have said they will come and get me, or that I should be sleeping with a gun underneath my pillow. They are very determined to get under my skin.”
Despite the ominous online reaction, Fiorito has vowed to keep the billboard up for as long as Trump remains in the White House.
Is this Free Speech at its finest or is this art in poor taste? Funny or Offensive? Vote and comment now.