Protest America Series

“You lie”.  Congressman Joe Wilson (R-South Carolina) yelled those two small words, with enormous impact, at President Obama while he was addressing Congress about health care reform in 2009.  That public display of disrespect further unleashed and encouraged a toxic environment of confrontational, partisan rhetoric that readily exists in the United States today and is a defining aspect of public protests.  Political candidates are attacked based on their cultural identity and religious beliefs, whether factual or fictitious.  Many political rallies no longer appear to be about civil debate of differing opinions, but more about the hurling of obscenities and fabrications intended to discredit the opposing side.  Our First Amendment right to freedom of speech has been bastardized to promote hate, slander and fear towards those with whom we disagree.
Protest America is a mixed media series of 28”x38” gelatin silver prints that were photographed in Washington D.C. during the health care arguments at the Supreme Court in March of 2012.
This body of work is focused on protesters with their signs that contain language that is not supportive of civil, rational discussions about health care reform in America.  Because I am a strong supporter of our First Amendment right to free speech, I find myself at odds with how these types of protest signs do nothing but promote hate mongering.  It is my intent with these mixed media photographs to illuminate that hate while allowing the viewers to accept or reject those sentiments.
The use of diluted India ink on top of the photographs was intended to give the prints a "dirty" feel that could mimic the emotional atmosphere of the rallies and to demonstrate that the issues being protested are not as black and white as the protest signs themselves.  The dripping ink provided an approach to altering the faces of the protestors in a manner that gives them a similarity in appearance with the intent of highlighting the hazards of blindly following political agendas.  The signs remain untouched to allow the viewers to form their own opinions about the messages they contain.

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