Blog / 2017 / I Won’t Shut Up.

September 6, 2017

Art is both communication and self-expression, but, like many artists, I am more comfortable in one mode than the other. I’m a communicator. I listen to my audience a lot so that I can fine tune the way I communicate with them.

To make my Tiki torch Trump portrait, I went away from my usual mode—something that I talked about in this video about the making of. And though I’m glad I made that piece, I’m excited to now be making a presidential portrait that will allow me to communicate more.

Trump as a Tiki torch, a reference to his support of the white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017
Gwenn Seemel
The Light of the Right (Donald Trump as a Tiki Torch)
2017
acrylic on canvas
24 x 18 inches

One of the people who misappropriated this painting and made sure I knew about the misappropriation also tried to school me. They told me that art is in the interpretation. But they are wrong. Art is not in the interpretation. It is in the intentions of both the maker and the appreciator.

In this case, the appreciator was someone who felt betrayed by me. They supported my art for years, but in that time they failed to actually see who I am. Instead, they cast me in a role, and when I deviated from that role they freaked out.

To truly love another person is to help them be who they are, not who you’ve decided they should be. A lot of Trump supporters don’t understand this. They need to look again at the way they “love” others. Because if you are just trying to help everyone fit neatly into the boxes you’ve decided are correct, you are not loving people: you are damaging them.

Trump as a Tiki torch, a reference to his support of the white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017
detail image of The Light of the Right

As soon as I published Light of the Right in my Redbubble shop, someone bought a couple Trumpy notebooks. I hope that person as well as anyone else who uses this image understands and agrees with my intention for it, but I know I cannot control them.

The soul of an artwork exists in the space between the artist and the audience, and that fact fuels both the deepest joy and the bitterest heartbreak of every artist who shares their work with the world.

UPDATE

November 8, 2018

I finished my second presidential portrait. You can watch the making of that piece.

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