The Political Art of the Trump Era

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Edel Rodriguez, “Trump Kid Golf” (2020)

Angeleen So

Contributing Writer

Donald Trump’s election in 2016 came as a huge shock to many Americans, sparking outrage, fear, and other, nuanced creative responses. Though the past four years under his presidency have been nothing short of tumultuous, artwork has served as an emotional outlet for many, as well as a humorous and thought-provoking method of critiquing the president and exploring the reality of Trump’s America. 

One of the most cohesive pieces of work to emerge is Chris Santa Maria’s “PRESIDENT TRUMP,” which depicts a multi-eyed monstrous figure wreaking havoc upon a disjointed crowd of people. Upon closer inspection, one notices that the entire image is composed of small photographs from news outlets detailing the events from Trump’s presidency up to 2020. 

Chris Santa Maria, “PRESIDENT TRUMP”(2016-2020)

The collage was made simply using glue and printed paper. It invokes a sense of fear and anxiety that seems to reflect what many felt throughout his presidency. A notable figure in the work is Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her subsequent passing, resulting in a conservative majority in the Supreme Court as Trump rushed to usher in Amy Coney Barrett. 

COVID-19 presented a trying time for the U.S., while other nations seem to have the spread under control. Many blame Trump’s incompetence for the fact that the U.S. is now the nation with the highest rates of COVID-19 infection. A cartoon by Drew Sheneman comments on this by depicting Trump crashing into a pole yet ignorantly stating, “We’ve turned a corner on COVID.” 

Drew Shenemen, “We’ve Turned the Corner on COVID” (2020)

The ambulance that Trump drives in the image is a metaphor for the U.S., with colors red, white, and blue painted onto the vehicle. Notably, the signs on the pole read “incompetence” and “negligence” to show that Trump has slammed right into the middle of these two traits with his poor handling of the situation. 

Another issue many critique Trump for is his immigration policies and the implementation of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). There are several news outlets reporting on the unjust treatment and unsanitary living conditions for undocumented people living in ICE facilities. Edel Rodriguez’s minimalist work,“Trump Kid Golf,” depicts Trump swinging a club over a child’s hunched body.  

Edel Rodriguez, “Trump Kid Golf” (2020)

The digital artwork comments on Trump’s affinity for golfing amidst the many ongoing issues in the nation, particularly the abuse of immigrants and their children under his administration. With his main campaign promise being, “build a wall,” it seems fitting that he would be portrayed playing golf rather than addressing the issues with ICE facilities. 

Finally, this year’s election was undoubtedly a stressful time for many Americans. Along with any election comes a debate about the validity of the electoral college. David Horsey’s “The Constitutional Dinosaur” displays this critique of the system as outdated and unrepresentative of  voters as seen in the election of 2016 when Clinton won the popular vote. 

David Horsey “The Constitutional Dinosaur” 2020

The cartoon is a simple hand-drawn sketch, depicting the electoral college as an actual dinosaur, commenting on how it chooses a candidate, then becomes irrelevant until four years later. Though there have been several debates on the topic each election, nothing has been done about the seemingly outdated method of voting. 

Trump’s election as a reality star with zero experience in government resulted in scathing criticisms of his administration. Although many presidents before him were disliked, there were few as controversial and active on Twitter. Even now as Biden is declared the winner of the election, Trump has remained in the spotlight admonishing the election as corrupt.

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