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Commissioned Works in ArtsWestchester’s Give Us The Vote Address the Current State of Voting Rights

"Profile" by Philippe Safire (photo courtesy of the artist)

ArtsWestchester’s Give Us The Vote exhibition is inspired by the hundredth anniversary of women’s suffrage in New York State. In preparation, ArtsWestchester called for proposals of artworks that would discuss the state of voting rights in America. In the end, twenty-three of the thirty-three works in the exhibition were commissioned, mostly from artists who live in Westchester and its neighboring communities. The democratic process by which they were selected mirrors the subject matter that the works sought to address. These chosen works speak to the history of women’s suffrage and the contemporary barriers to the voting ballot still experienced today. For instance, in Tom Fruin’s Perforated Double Flag (Voting Booth), two American flags hang in reference to the curtain that voters pull for privacy in some voting booths. The flags are perforated with grommets, thereby not allowing for such privacy, suggesting an inconsistent protection of voting rights. Ann Lewis calls attention to the manipulation of voter district boundaries in the practice of gerrymandering. Her series of large-scale paintings, which resemble Rorschach tests, depict actual court cases for congressional districts that have been deemed unconstitutional. Richard Tomasello’s voting booth, Cast, devises a literal barrier to the ballot box to represent the limitation of voting rights on underserved communities: barbed wire is haphazardly draped across and within the booth, blocking voters from their ability to cast a vote. Philippe Safire’s lenticular print, Profile, visualizes voter demographics, by race and gender, based on 2016 voter data. Safire translated this data into pixels that together represent America’s multicultural society. Groups of candidates were assigned colors that were then arranged to form a picture: the silhouette of a presidential candidate waving to the crowd.

Give Us The Vote is on view through January 27, 2018. For more info, visit artsw.org/giveusthevote.

A version of this article first appeared in the December-January issue of ArtsNews, ArtsWestchester’s monthly publication. ArtsNews is distributed throughout Westchester County. A digital copy is also available at artsw.org/artsnews

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